The Dangerous Book for Boys

My son just turned ten, this, in and of itself, presents it’s own set of challenges. Living in the age of Playstation 4′s, X-Box One’s, and iPad’s is a whole different ballgame altogether. My son is a gamer. Has been since he was about three. For those who don’t know what a gamer is, you need to make sure your AARP dues have been paid. All kidding aside, it’s not that easy getting kids out of their electronic comfort zones, anymore.

It’s not that I’m against video games, per se. I’ve spent my fair share of time in my bedroom with a Sega Genesis, Nintendo, and Playstation 2. So I know from whence I speak. The gaming systems these days can do pretty much anything, except make your kids bed for them; so it’s an understatement to say it’s more of an uphill battle than it used to be when trying to get your son outside for a game of catch. I feel like I’ve really accomplished something if I take him to the park with his bicycle. Small victories, I’ll take them where I can get them.

I know I may be late to this party, but I ran across a nifty book called The Dangerous Book for Boys, published in 2007. The book was written by Conn and Hal Iggulden from the UK. It’s part guide book, part story book, and part reference manual for boys. The purpose of the book is to openly combat the Playstation culture that we find ourselves currently neck deep in.

I bought the book for his birthday, it arrived in the mail today. Imagine his dismay when the heavy package that he thought was a new toy of the electronic variety, turned out to be a heavy, thick, book that you actually have to open to read. Needless to say, he wasn’t that impressed.

My mission is to sit with my son, one on one, and read the book together; daily going through the chapters, whether it’s the story of the Alamo, or the chapter about making paper airplanes, the goal is to accomplish each task, together. Some I realize will be difficult for him to focus on, such as the chapter on the essential quotes of Shakespeare. Some chapters will be difficult for me, such as the chapter on training a dog. Mainly because we don’t have a dog. But it’ll be fun, just the same.

We went through the first chapter tonight, a list of essential gear for all boys to have. Flashlight, matches, Swiss Army Knife, fishing hooks, a compass, etc. We then covered making paper airplanes. Sometimes you forget things that you used to do on a daily basis; in school, making paper airplanes was a form of competition for boys. Who had the nicest looking plane, whose flew the farthest, whose flew the longest. It’s been years since I made one, I don’t know that my son ever had, but he loved it.

We finished up the evening talking about why Summer days are longer than Winter days, the Equator, and longitude and latitude. Tomorrow we’ll get back to the planes, tying essential knots, and the seven wonders of the ancient world. Each night will be a new adventure. What I like most about the book is that it stirs conversation. Conversation that I would wager is lacking in most father son relationships these days.

I’m actually looking forward to the chapter on dog training, now. Maybe, if things go according to plan, I’ll get him a puppy. Mission underway, so far, so good.

(this diary is cross-posted at my personal blog, Rotten to the Core)