Thursday, September 18, 2008

A Deep, Man Voice



Every time I hear it, I look to see if Walter is here. If someone has come in the door I didn't know about.

A deep, man voice.

It's Ben's. His voice has almost completely changed into a deep baritone. I don't expect it in my house. I have little boys. Babies, really. Not almost grown men with hairy legs and voices with resonance.

The words that come out of the madly growing body don't quite match the maturity of the sound.

Jake! You smell like farts! Doesn't scream responsibility and social awareness. When those words come out, I'm never surprised, or caught off guard. It's the single words, or the chatting with the cats- to whom he is enormously polite- that I find jarring.

Who is that man?

My son is going to be thirteen this fall. Most of his friends will have bar or bats mitzvah's. They have studied long and hard a difficult language and how to read from the Torah. Even with candy studded events or sparkling disco balls twirling, there is a moment of being welcomed into the community as a man, or woman. A full member.

Of course these kids are still kids, by our American, modern standards, but there is something powerful about having to work for something that has a long tradition. The process does change them.

As an atheist, I'm not sure what makes the most sense for my boys. We attend the Unitarian Universalist church but have become lax in the last couple of years. But I'm not sure I want the passage to manhood be marked by some religious event.

I don't believe in religion as much as I don't believe in God. I think Karl Marx was right in that religion is the opiate for the masses. It sooths people into accepting plights they should never accept.

How does my son transition into being a man? The physical changes are clear. The emotional ones are harder to define. He has more responsibility now than before and more freedom.

And he still tells his brother he smells like farts.

It's going to be an interesting year, with this growing young man in my house. He will need to learn to be a part of a community, to be kind when it's hard to, to lose at times and graciously win, remembering the sting of being on the other side. He needs to do for others outside himself- more than buy a slice of pizza for a pal out of cash. He needs to start to understand there are great injustices in our world- and has been for centuries.

He will need to understand some people will hate him without even knowing his name.

At the same time, he is exploring a body full of new and amazing sensations. With all the tingles, excitement and joy comes responsibility. First loves. Heartbreaks.

He's not a baby anymore. All these years and you'd think I'd be prepared. I'm not. His deep voice, though, startles me back to reality.

I have a young man in my house.

With much to learn.

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8 Comments:

Anonymous donald said...

get used to it, there are two more right on his heals! your house will be full of testosterone AND estrogen!! it should be interesting!

it does amaze me how much he has matured in the last year.

1:20 AM  
Blogger Suzy said...

yep it is scary to turn and find the voice coming out of the child body. Then they get taller than you.

8:33 AM  
Blogger Sara said...

he's not allowed to be taller than me.

I will wear heels.

9:21 AM  
Anonymous Laura said...

it does go quick....and it happens right before your eyes without you even realizing it!

I still think ours are babies....one is in Iraq now - the other living in Florida......*sigh*

The one thing that doesnt change is how much you worry....it doesnt get better.

10:04 AM  
Anonymous Morgan said...

Stilts may go better with the flannel shirt.

11:48 AM  
Anonymous donald said...

really girl, heels? i know better!

2:42 AM  
Blogger Seda said...

Wow. Powerful stuff, and something I hadn't really recognized I'm gonna be facing soon.

A friend of mine wrote a book on Rites of Passage called Re-Visioning Adolescence. She takes it from a Lakota perspective. I thought it was good, and gave me some good ideas. http://manykites.org/mainpages/bookstorescroll.htm if you're interested.

Good luck!

8:22 PM  
Blogger s. said...

Don't worry about taller. Start "those conversations" with two words: SIT DOWN. Use your Mom Voice. Then you can stand up and yell at him. Our son is 6-5 and our youngest (14) is my height (6-0). SIT DOWN works, and is our secret weapon.

10:35 AM  

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