“People take on the shapes of the songs and the stories that surround them, especially if they don’t have their own song.~ Neil Gaiman, “Anansi Boys”
The above quote showed up on my Facebook a couple of weeks ago, and it’s been tumbling in my thoughts ever since. I can’t quite seem to shake it.
I’ve been asking myself what stories I invite my boys to join. Which books do we read together with strong men as a source of inspiration? What films do we watch that teach our boys about how to treat other people? What qualities of a good man do we talk about and discuss? Does my husband embody those same qualities? Do our friends? Do our families? What qualities do we affirm in our own boys?
How do we approach our boys? Have we ever uttered the words, ‘boys will be boys’ and assumed it acceptable? Do we listen to them? Do we sit down and give them our undivided attention the way we expect them to give us theirs? How do the men in our lives treat women? Would we be happy for our boys to emulate that same behaviour? How do we speak about other cultures and religions? Are we accepting, or do we speak from a place of ignorance and fear? How do we speak to our children, full stop? Do we treat them with respect or do we continually chastise, mock and belittle them with our thoughtless, impatient words?
How do we change these things if we realise we’re not happy with what we’ve learnt about ourselves and what we are inadvertently teaching our boys? How do we open up a discussion about how and why some people choose to destroy others and tear them down instead of building them up?
How do you encourage your boys to sing their own songs?
There are so many questions borne from a single quote, and my answers to them will shape the very essence of my boys.
That’s a pretty powerful realisation, and one that scares me immensely.