I have often felt sorry for modern boys and young men. They have so few chances to kinesthetically apply their problem-solving skills.
So few opportunities to be a hero.
Watching Honey I Shrunk the Kids a few years ago was the first time I really thought about this.
The greasy teenage boy changed from lazy and purposeless into a confident leader. I had to wonder how many of the high school guys I knew could have been marvelous rather than eye-rolling if they’d had the opportunity.
It’s started a new point of interest in my folktale collecting:
I’d really like to find some über-manly tales of knights and princes. The type that dominate the scene, according to the authors compiling books of women-centered folktales.
I guess I haven’t been paying enough attention up till now, because most of the stories I find don’t raise men nearly to the level women reach in their corresponding tales (trickster tales being the exception).
Even Cinderella, Snow White and The Sleeping Beauty— castigated as being about passive women– are still just about the women. I’ve noted before that in these stories the man is merely the accessory. A part of the packaged fantasy played out in the fairy tale.
Granted, I’m familiar with a lot of tales where a youngest son or some poor young man who is all alone is kind to the right person, finds the right friends, follows the advice of the wise man (or woman), and gets the girl, the gold or the kingdom, but they only rarely feel heroic.
Bryan Davis, the author of the Dragons in our Midst series (and another) wrote a fabulous article about the heart of heroism in boys and girls, and how naturally it plays out in line with the roles God ordained: Champion and encourager. Protector and helpmeet.
Read it. It gave me goosebumps (if that’s any additional recommendation).
So far in my brief search I have found two noteworthy books that I expect to buy by the time Elisha is a pre-schooler:
The title story from Lady of the Linden Tree is another good example of what I’m looking for, and is among the half-dozen or so of Picard’s tales I’d love to see in picture book format.
The Black Falcon, changed from its original incarnation in the Decameron, becomes a tale of sacrifice, about loving a person over a possession. The other is about a fierce battle, with honor, faithfulness, and the happy ending.
I’m keeping my eyes open for more like these, because as nice as it is to see the triumph of “the little guy,” I think it’s good, too, to have heroes that are larger than life.
My girls love their picture books with the pages of beautiful ladies and journeys that they can see themselves on. I want to give my son the same opportunity to identify with men of honor and bravery.
Yes, I hope to teach my son gentleness, but I also want to equip him with stories and images he can admire; those showing the proper use of strength and power.