In light of my recent posts on boyhood and the formative power of work, a new holiday ad for UPS does a nice job of illustrating a key point: something deep down in a boy longs for work, and that basic desire ought to be guided, encouraged, and discipled accordingly, not downplayed, distorted, or ignored.
The ad highlights one of the company’s youngest fans, a boy named Carson, who is fascinated by UPS trucks and relishes the chance to perform deliveries in a miniature model of his own. It’s funny, charming, heart-warming, and all the rest. (HT)
Girls are created for work as well, of course — subject for another ad, another day — but anyone who is parent to a boy knows that the shape of Carson’s excitement has a particular arc and aim. Boys love things that go, enjoy working with their hands, respond well when given big-red-button ownership, and so on. Yet even as we perceive these basic tendencies, it can be easy for us to sideline them as mere Vroom-Vroom Stereotypes, cute and quaint as a blue baseball cap, but not all that meaningful or distinct in the grand scheme of things.
On the contrary, in a prosperous and privileged society such as ours, surrounded by distractions and looming temptations of idleness and hedonism, we should be all the more attentive of and to that simple, natural glee that we see in Carson. Yes, it’s charming. Yes it’s heart-warming. But primarily because it’s driving force is so foundational to all that it means to be a man.
Rather than leaving our boys to their own devices or, conversely, smothering them with excessive coddling and concern, we ought to allow and empower them to initiate: to drive the truck, to shake the hands, to grin and greet and serve and flourish, providing healthy mentorship, guidance, and discipline along the way.
When our boys show interest in the inner-workings of gadgets and factories, the heroics of pilots and oil riggers and firemen, and the speed and size of trains and delivery trucks, yearning to put their own hands to work, we should be quick to encourage and empower that deep, God-given gift for a particular kind of stewardship.
“The masculine spirit, the thumos, is developed by habituation in the routine…the small things…everyday chores…work,” says James Daniels in a recent interview with the Circe Institute. “…We must be about the work of connecting the dots for young men — showing them how taking initiative in the mundane fits into the higher pursuits and calling of being a man.”
What better way to start than at the age of 4, with rightly sized tires to boot?
(HT: Owen Strachan)