This week we will celebrate the 8th birthday of The Boy Wonder. This comes as no real surprise to me. On the whole I’ve remained conscious throughout that time and have watched my first born grow into a pretty cool little boy.
He’s been ‘bounce off the walls’ excited since New Year and this last week has been almost unbearable…up and dressed by 6am, running around the house from 6.05, I had better go to bed by 8pm on Wednesday as the chances are he’ll be up at 2am to celebrate his big day.
I’ve had his present list since January and it’s all very reasonable stuff so I thought we were sorted. Eight isn’t a mahoosive milestone and he’s got to that lovely age where he’s happy to take a couple of friends to the cinema and come home for a birthday tea so all within budget.
But, we’ve had a bit of a hiccup.
Our trip to Wales has thrown in the proverbial spanner.
The Boy Wonder has decided that what he wants more than anything is a penknife…
When we met with our friends in Wales it turned out that their nearly 8 yo already owned this most prized possession. My first response was concern with a hint of panic. The what-if brigade did a fly-by, coating me in a confetti of health and safety issues. But I quelled them all, I listened and I watched as my son was shown how to use the knife, how his serious little face demonstrated its understanding of what it all meant and how his poppety head nodded earnestly, agreeing to ‘the rules of use’.
Do you know what? It was all fine, the boys cut branches, they made spears, they whittled…he made me a boat!
But what really impressed me is that there was not one occasion where the knife was treated with anything other than reverence. It was clearly being used as a tool, never a weapon, and my imaginings of laughing antics involving knives being waved in faces, emergency trips to A&E and my own ‘I told you so’ tone echoing around the cottage simply didn’t materialise.
Even more significantly, despite a global ban on his DS (even when his friend was playing his own digital game), my son still managed to amuse himself with only the odd tantrum about what was fair and it had a lot to do with access to the great outdoors and a penknife.
I’m well aware of our society’s tendency towards emasculation, I’m guilty of it myself. At my son’s last school he was singled out by a particular teacher who obviously enjoyed teaching girls and thought that every boy needed to be reigned in and ‘broken’.
Thankfully at a new school the same enthusiasm was recognised in a more positive light, embraced and channeled. I’m all for allowing boys to dress up in Snow White costumes, braid their hair and act as girlie as they like (and I have the video to prove it….saving that one for the 18th birthday) but I’m increasingly aware of the need to let boys ‘be boys’ and to not expect an apology for it.
But what now? What do I do? My son has clearly demonstrated that he can be trusted with a penknife (for 48 hours), he wants a penknife for his birthday. I have reservations, the OH more so, but what message does it send if we say no?
What would you do?
Please do vote and leave me comments with your thoughts…I’m in a bind and I’ve only got 48 hours to make a decision!