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You are here: Home > Forum > A Place of Safety > General Talk > Being a Boy is a wonderful state
Being a Boy is a wonderful state  [message #68326] Tue, 18 February 2014 17:14 Go to next message
timmy   United Kingdom

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At work today, out in the fresh air, driving the harbour taxi, I saw boys on half term. I mean boys way below the age of any sexual awareness or interest. I just mean boys. And the pure state of boyhood struck me as a wonderful, glorious thing. The facial expressions when just being silly, or relaxing, or daring other boys to do things...

I wish that persisted even into puberty, let alone adulthood. It fades all to quickly as the serious business of teenage starts, then as responsibilities start.



Author of Queer Me! Halfway Between Flying and Crying - the true story of life for a gay boy in the Swinging Sixties in a British all male Public School
Re: Being a Boy is a wonderful state  [message #68327 is a reply to message #68326] Tue, 18 February 2014 22:35 Go to previous messageGo to next message
Kitzyma is currently offline  Kitzyma   United Kingdom

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I really hope that being a boy is indeed wonderful for most of them. I don't remember ever feeling wonderful when I was a boy. On rare occasions I might have been happy, but generally contentment was the best I could aspire to. Trying to keep unhappiness at bay seems to have been my most frequent occupation.

It's fortunate that my schooldays were not the happiest time of my life because most of my memories of school involve different degrees of fear, ranging from unease to terror. I'm happier now than I ever was at school and I feel more wonderful now than I ever did as a boy.

Obviously, I used to be a boy and I suppose I must have been a child, once upon a time, but I don't really remember feeling like a child. Of course, I remember being much smaller, weaker and more dependent upon others. When I was young I had less knowledge and less experience, but I could say that about last year, and I certainly wasn't a child then. So perhaps size, strength, dependence upon others and lack of experience are all relative and not necessarily the markers of childhood.

If childhood is defined as a time when my life was simple or carefree then I have no memories of such a time. So the childhood I don't remember may be defined by other things, such as innocence, unquestioning trust in adults or maybe even believing in Santa Claus. I don't recall ever having those particular characteristics, at least not since my earliest memories from around the time I was about five or six years old. Perhaps I'd ceased to be a child before that age. Or maybe those characteristics of childhood are not real but imagined by adults and imposed upon children, like the fiction of a Santa Claus.

Whatever the case, as far back as I can remember, I was only ever a smaller, weaker, less knowledgeable and less experienced version of my present self. Sometimes I suspect that a simple, carefree childhood is a myth invented by adults. My suspicion is that the myth is a self-delusion spontaneously generated as adults reinterpret their own childhood memories. At my most cynical I sometimes think that perhaps the myth is merely a lie to cover up a reality we don't want to acknowledge.

On the other hand, my experience of childhood is limited to myself and those closest to me. So perhaps most boys are in a wonderful state most of the time and perhaps most children have a simple, carefree time for most of their childhood. I certainly hope so.

I do know, though, that even for those whose boyhood is rather less than wonderful there is the promise of a wonderful life when they grow older. To young people who don't feel they had (or are having) a wonderful boyhood, I say hang in there. It gets better. There will be happiness and occasionally life will be wonderful. That's something I know from personal experience.
Re: Being a Boy is a wonderful state  [message #68328 is a reply to message #68327] Tue, 18 February 2014 23:12 Go to previous messageGo to next message
timmy   United Kingdom

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I know others had it more than I. But I did with one friend. We were boys. For once I was accepted, and we did stupid boy things. I liked him. My parents disapproved of him because he was an ordinary boy. I was a china doll, but he was a boy. So I glimpsed it, caught hold of it and tasted it, but it was never to be mine.

But I am not overlaying what I saw today with my own experiences. I saw boys, maybe 10/11 as untamed, wild critters, being boys. 



Author of Queer Me! Halfway Between Flying and Crying - the true story of life for a gay boy in the Swinging Sixties in a British all male Public School
Re: Being a Boy is a wonderful state  [message #68329 is a reply to message #68328] Wed, 19 February 2014 07:20 Go to previous messageGo to next message
Kitzyma is currently offline  Kitzyma   United Kingdom

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Quote:
timmy wrote on Tue, 18 February 2014 23:12But I am not overlaying what I saw today with my own experiences. I saw boys, maybe 10/11 as untamed, wild critters, being boys. 

--

I don't think it's possible not to interpret what we see in terms of our own experience, and even if it were possible, I doubt it would be desirable. Learning from experience is a valuable asset for many species and if we didn't do it then we'd keep repeating the same mistakes. The real problem is deciding which experiences are most relevant to a current situation.

Being an individual boy might indeed be wonderful. Personally, however, I don't see a bunch of wild and untamed 10-11 year old boys as particularly wonderful, though they are probably less threatening than a bunch of wild and untamed 15-16 year olds. Even at 10-11 there is a pack mentality, jostling for social position, attempts by individuals in the pack to get others to do what they want, and often some cruelty. c.f. 'The Lord of the Flies'.

In my experience, just because there is a sexual innocence doesn't mean there is a general innocence. So I think that nowadays most general non-sexual innocence is lost in most boys by the time they are 10-11. Perhaps most 7-8 year olds still have a wonderful natural innocence.
Re: Being a Boy is a wonderful state  [message #68340 is a reply to message #68329] Tue, 25 February 2014 04:44 Go to previous messageGo to next message
Smokr is currently offline  Smokr   United States

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The loss of innocence is a difficult thing to pin down. Not just getting a definitive answer to "What is innocent" as compared to "No longer innocent," but what degree and what categories?
But I see and understand your point, Tim. Kids being kinds. No worries about bills, work, finances, debts, politics, law, getting the car serviced, cleaning out the garage, fixing the downspouts, keeping the spouse/partner happy, where the kids are and what they're doing, and on and on and so forth.
Just running around and not caring, having fun.
That intangible something we all long to experience.  Or is it a nothing?



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Re: Being a Boy is a wonderful state  [message #68341 is a reply to message #68340] Tue, 25 February 2014 11:40 Go to previous messageGo to next message
Kitzyma is currently offline  Kitzyma   United Kingdom

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Quote:
Smokr wrote on Tue, 25 February 2014 04:44No worries about bills, work, finances, debts, politics, law, getting the car serviced, cleaning out the garage, fixing the downspouts, keeping the spouse/partner happy, where the kids are and what they're doing, and on and on and so forth.
Just running around and not caring, having fun.
That intangible something we all long to experience.  Or is it a nothing?

--

Kids may not have the 'adult worries' listed above, but they do have plenty of worries of their own.

Will my gran remember to pick me up from school? How will I do in exams and what if I fail? What will Mum do when she finds out I ripped a hole in my shirt? Will the other kids make fun of my specs? Will I get teased again by the PE teacher as well as the  kids because I'm too uncoordinated to bee any good at any sports? Will Dad get home from the pub in time for Xmas dinner? Will any of my stuff get broken in one of my parents' fights? Am I brave enough to sing a solo in the choir? Will Andrew rather go cycling with me or swimming with John, who didn't invite me to go swimming with them? How will I tell my best friend that I can't go to see him because Mum thinks that visiting his 'posh' house is making me 'too big for my boots'? etc, etc...

The kids running around apparently free of care may have such worries at the back of their minds, though they may have temporarily forgotten them for a moment. Adults can temporarily forget their worries about bills, etc., but it doesn't mean they are care-free.
Re: Being a Boy is a wonderful state  [message #68346 is a reply to message #68341] Wed, 26 February 2014 19:33 Go to previous messageGo to next message
kiwi is currently offline  kiwi   New Zealand

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Been chewing this over for days.. It is a wonderful time, but probably better viewed in retrospect. Most kids just want to be older than they are and in charge of their own lives - good luck with that too!

cheers
Re: Being a Boy is a wonderful state  [message #68348 is a reply to message #68346] Fri, 28 February 2014 17:56 Go to previous messageGo to next message
Smokr is currently offline  Smokr   United States

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Sure, there are even kids who daily worry if they'll even get to eat today, and other kids who worry constantly if their father or mother will beat them for nothing, and others who lie in hospital beds wondering if they'll get another tomorrow or if their illness will claim them tonight.
But those hopefully very rare exceptions are not what Tim is referring to.
He's speaking to that state when having the moment's frivolity is all that matters. When not being tagged and being unable to tag someone else is the current concern. When Mom and Dad are distant figures not to be thought of, and when the worst thing in the mind is you might fart when you're tackled and be humiliated and called stinky-pants for the rest of the day. Those moments when you're not concerned about the grass stains on your new jeans or new shirt, and you'll worry about that later, because you're being chased by a faster boy and you've barely got a lead and you know you won't be able to tag him out so you're frantically trying to figure out who you'll have to tag to not be it once he tags you, and you feel like a commanding general on the battlefield as you plot to get close to your intended target before you're it so you can not be it right away.

[Updated on: Fri, 28 February 2014 18:06]




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Re: Being a Boy is a wonderful state  [message #68349 is a reply to message #68348] Fri, 28 February 2014 19:57 Go to previous messageGo to next message
Kitzyma is currently offline  Kitzyma   United Kingdom

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Quote:
Smokr wrote on Fri, 28 February 2014 17:56Sure, there are even kids who daily worry if they'll even get to eat today...
But those hopefully very rare exceptions are not what Tim is referring to.
He's speaking to that state when having the moment's frivolity is all that matters.

--

I really don't want to appear to be argumentative, but the term 'rose coloured spectacles' comes to mind.
The above quote might be more accurate for children in first-world countries whose parents are not poor. On a world stage, such things are probably not 'very rare exceptions'. Even wealthy kids can worry about exams, bullying, etc.

Of course, lots of kids will have times when they forget their worries and just enjoy 'being in the moment'. But that can be true of adults, too. Long after one ceases to be a boy it is occasionally possible  to be in a "state when having the moment's frivolity is all that matters". At least that is my experience. Perhaps for some people the experience was more common as a kid, but for others it can be at least as common as an adult.

"Being a Boy is a wonderful state" is the subject line.
not
"Being a Boy can sometimes be a wonderful state"
or even
"Being a Boy is a often a wonderful state"

Although a kid can be in such a wonderful state occasionally and without effort, with conscious effort an adult can temporarily put himself into such a wonderful state.

And it seems to me that the statement that "the pure state of boyhood struck me as a wonderful, glorious thing" says more about wishful-thinking and rose-tinted spectacles than it does about reality. If kids really did maintain such a state of blissful ignorance and haven't learned the realities of life when they start school (age 5 or so?) then their classmates will rapidly disillusion them.

I'm sure the boys that Timmy wrote about were untroubled and in a wonderful state at the moment they were being observed. That doesn't mean that merely 'being a boy' is in itself a wonderful state. Assuming that most kids aren't really troubled and that they are in a wonderful state can be harmful - e.g. if it allows us to miss the signs that, below the surface they try to show the outside world,  they really are unhappy or worried.
Re: Being a Boy is a wonderful state  [message #68350 is a reply to message #68349] Sat, 01 March 2014 13:18 Go to previous messageGo to next message
timmy   United Kingdom

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I think there are different things being talked about.

Kit, you raise wholly valid concerns, the more so about missing signs of trouble. But that was not in my mind when I made the original post. I was far more along Smokr's thought train.

I have not noticed the same about the state of girlhood. When I see groups of little girls they are so often in the doll and pram mini-adult mould. They should be running free, but they are constrained to the prettiness imposed upon them by peer and by parent. Groups of boys display wholly different characteristics.



Author of Queer Me! Halfway Between Flying and Crying - the true story of life for a gay boy in the Swinging Sixties in a British all male Public School
Re: Being a Boy is a wonderful state  [message #68351 is a reply to message #68350] Sat, 01 March 2014 19:19 Go to previous messageGo to next message
Smokr is currently offline  Smokr   United States

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Kit, you're splitting hairs. On a molecular level. LOL
Tim is clearly referring to those boys he saw being wild and free and in 'the moment,' and not of every boy on the planet at all times.
Are you a lawyer? Politician? Vatican spokesperson? Psychoanalyst specializing in personal trauma? What? LOL
We all know not all boys are always happy. Fact of life. My own childhood would make a dark, moody, depressing book. But I had moments of total freedom as Timmy observed, few as they were. My teens weren't all that great, either. In fact, I can't point to many times in my life that were all that great. Yet I understand Timmy's point.
But the discussion is still fun, and I'm learning just how literal and stringent you are. Do you pick apart jokes, too? You've got to be one of the type who don't laugh at prat-fall humor and likely stick your nose up at toilet humor. But anyway, it takes all kinds, and all kinds make life fun.
Yeah, rose-colored glasses. I love putting them on from time to time to block out the intense glare of reality. But I don't need them to see the joy in laughing and playing children.



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Re: Being a Boy is a wonderful state  [message #68352 is a reply to message #68351] Sat, 01 March 2014 23:13 Go to previous message
timmy   United Kingdom

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My pre-teen childhood wasn't carefree, either. I was bullied and I was also a bully. I had controlling parents. I was victimised and teased at school and had few friends. And yet the times when I truly was carefree, those I cherish. Those times are what I saw caught in the eyes of the boys I saw on half term.

[Updated on: Sun, 02 March 2014 00:45]




Author of Queer Me! Halfway Between Flying and Crying - the true story of life for a gay boy in the Swinging Sixties in a British all male Public School
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