Saturday, February 18, 2012

How Boys Become Men

This evening, after I finished my kickboxing routine, I decided to go out and enjoy a little kettlebelling before I was done for the night. Accordingly I went out to the truck, unstrapped the 44kg kettlebell I keep in the back of it, and started doing swings. My goal was 20 sets of 10, although I got a little froggy in the middle of the workout and threw in two sets of twenty (took the frogginess right out of me.)

As I was nearing the end of my workout a little boy came out of one of the nearby apartments. He was small enough to be about seven, but spoke well enough to be about ten, so I’m not sure how old he was. He was wearing black jeans and a black coat and carrying a power-ranger’s sword and I’d seen him running around the complex with other kids before. This time he walked right up to me, bold as brass, and said, point blank, “Are you strong?”

I chuckled (under my breath) and said, “Strong enough to lift this thing.” I nudged the kettlebell with my toe.

The young feller looked down at the ugly chunk of metal and strode over to it with a swagger practically oozing testosterone. He seized the iron handle in his two small but mighty hands (they didn’t even come close to wrapping all the way around) and heaved. He heaved with vigor. He heaved with vim. The kettlebell scraped on the sidewalk as it slid a little, but it weighed, I would guess, roughly twice what he did. He let go with a gasp, “Whoa! That’s heavy!”

I laughed a little bit, not in an unkind way, but he wasn’t finished yet. He manfully stepped back up to the plate, as it were, and once again gripped the iron beast with determined mitts. He pulled and pulled and pulled, and this time managed to tip it a little to one side. “Don’t hurt yourself,” I said, momentarily falling into my obligatory role as responsible adult. He let go, huffing and puffing.

“You’re a bit small for that, kiddo,” I told him, sympathetically. “You’ll have to grow into it.”

But he ignored my condescending remark with righteous scorn, and undaunted, seized hold of his enemy one more time. His face was focused, his miniscule fingers were clenched, his every fiber rocked with masculinity. Mighty was the struggle! He tipped it, he tilted it, he rolled it, and dragged it, but still one stubborn corner would not come off the ground. With a final, all-or-nothing effort, he pulled it on top of his bootlace (which was completely untied) and let go of it. “Whoosh,” he said. “I almost got it.”

“Yeah you did,” I agreed, because he had.

He turned to walk away, but it was the kettlebell’s turn now, and it yanked back on his bootlace and would not let go. “What the…” He exclaimed, glaring at his nemesis. I lifted it up so he could run away, calling over his shoulder, “I almost got it!”

A few minutes later he came running back out of his apartment. This time he had added a hood and some sort of face wrap, transforming his coat into a ninja suit. He was tearing across the yard for all he was worth, but he spared enough breath as he went by to say, “Sorry, buddy, but I got to go. See you.” And he was gone.

That is a kid who is practically made of greatness. Blessings on him!