Boys will be boys…

September 9, 2007 at 4:00 pm (On the road again...)

…and one hopes they never lose their spirit. But how does one facilitate the transition from boy to man? Can I make a difference? Is it worth the bother?

My nephew is thirteen, and growing up. He’s a good kid. He’s big-hearted, conscientious, fun to be around. But he’s been kept in check, compared to his contemporaries. He doesn’t get out unsupervised, and spends a lot of time at home alone.

Lately he’s expressed the urge to get out and roam on his own. He has been, but his mom keeps a close eye on him. So I suggested she let him come out with me for a few excursions. Today we hopped a bus and went to score groceries.

Since it cost $1.40 for him to ride, we took the long way. (39th via downtown.) Since that’s a long ride, it seemed only right to get off the bus and stretch our legs.

Conversation was minimal, except for the caveats about jaywalking, not wearing your pants around your knees, etc… We came across a trio of my favorite Clean and Safe officers; I introduced The Kid to them, and they were appropriately gruff. Then I told them about a scene we’d just witnessed at the Upscale Mall.

As we took the air-conditioned shortcut through the mall, we heard a loud crash, and a young gutter-punk running for the escalator. Soon ten or fifteen more came busting through, chasing him up the moving stairs. The chasee ran into the theater, then came out and ran down below.

He ran past us, looking scared, and on his second ascent I noticed him carrying a brown bag in a funny way. I’d seen guns concealed that way before, so I grabbed the kid and we exited for the store. Better safe than sorry.

We went by my work, where a computer malfunction had ground things to a halt.

I cracked my knuckles, poked a couple of buttons, and machines were up and running once again. We left before they found something else for me to do.

The trip home was quiet, yet he seemed to enjoy himself. I tried to remember that age, and how each road trip was also a journey of fantasy. I was always running liquor, robbing a bank, driving cross-country. My most recent cinematic adventure was usually the inspiration.

“Wow, we walked a lot,” he said. I smiled inwardly. I usually walk three times that much on any given day. It puffed me up a little, having ‘taken it easy’ on The Kid.

I think back to those who made the biggest impact on my life at that time. Whether a good influence or bad, the ones who took the time to be with me, let me tag along, take the time to explain ‘Whazzup!’ are the ones who formed the man I’ve become. It could also explain the immature streak I sometimes battle.

Someone has to show us how to be men, and The Kid seems like a worthy project.

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