“Boyhood is a most complex and incomprehensible thing. Even when one has been through it, one does not understand what it was. A man can never quite understand a boy, even when he has been the boy.” – G. K. Chesterton
I don’t think I really agree with that quote from Mr. Chesterton. Boyhood was complex – magical, frustrating, joyous, mysterious, difficult, fun, and so much more. But I do think that I understand my sons quite well. They need their father to understand them and to help them through the tumultuous times of youth. In that spirit, here are my Ten Basic Rules of Boyhood, as I remember them:
1. No Girls Allowed
Ever. Never ever ever. Period. Especially if you are in the treehouse.
2. One Do-Over per game
This one could be added to or denied depending on who was making the rules for whatever game you were playing. However, the “No Do-Over” admonition usually meant that a friendship was on the rocks or it wasn’t really a friendship to begin with, just a kid in the neighborhood that you couldn’t get rid of.
3. Step on a Crack, Break Your Mama’s Back
No one really believed this rule, but many boys developed the habit of avoiding cracks anyway. If you are a grown man and still doing this, you may consider the possibility that you are slightly OCD.
4. Cross Your Heart and Hope to Die
Like the previous rule, nobody really thought they’d die, but this was the solemn, unbreakable vow of a boy – unless, of course, he had his fingers crossed behind his back. Why that was allowed I’ll never understand. It always seemed pretty rotten to me.
5. Don’t be a Tattle-Tale
Little brothers were the worst at this. I know. I am one. 🙂
6. Family First.
I can mess with my brother or sister all I want. You do it and you’re dead.
7. Two for Flinching
This was a test of strength and toughness for a boy. One boy pretends he is going to punch another boy but he stops himself making contact with his fist. The other boy flinches. So, the first boy gets to punch his friend twice in the arm (See my previous blog post for more details on this).
8. Don’t Cut in Line.
There’s no quicker way to ruin a friendship than by always having to be first.
9. Get Candy.
If candy or ice cream is involved, it’s every boy for himself (Thanks to Jerry Seinfeld for this one).
10. Boys will be Boys.
Well, duh. I never understood why people said this. It seemed pretty obvious, but they always seemed to think they were making some brilliant statement when they said it, so I suppose it should make the list.
Honorable Mention: When you start noticing girls, all bets are off.
There you have it! My list of the Ten Basic Rules of Boyhood. If you don’t like them, you could go with Homer Simpson’s rules:
“The code of the schoolyard, Marge! The rules that teach a boy to be a man. Let’s see. Don’t tattle. Always make fun of those different from you. Never say anything, unless you’re sure everyone feels exactly the same way you do.”
D’oh! I like my list better. What do you think? Did I miss any?