Tuesday, November 6, 2012

Rites of Passage

I remember it vividly; it was Christmas and dad and I were sitting at the kitchen table, solving the world's problems over a shot and a beer. The discussion was getting heated, as we started discussing how we would solve certain social issues. When the discussion turned to political parties, we found ourselves -- just as we were -- on opposite sides of the table. After my making a salient point, I could see dad's mind working doubly hard. He remained quiet and his face changed so much I thought he was in distress. Suddenly he smiled, reached out his hand to shake mine and announced, "Today, we are the same age."

I must admit I was not prepared for that.

What he meant was that he considered me his equal. I was still his son, but now he considered me an adult -- a man. He commented that he had co-workers my age, and he considered them men worthy of respect. He always gave me his love but, at that moment, he also gave me his respect.

That was a great day.

That day was like a rite of passage for me. From then on I was still the son, of course, and he was still the dad, but we were men who could discuss issues intelligently, taking sides, defending our position, and respectfully seeing the other's point of view. But that was only one rite of passage that defined my journey into manhood.

There was also the day I received my driver's license. We lived in a Snowbelt state, and dad would not let me drive alone, until I had skidded around a corner and buried the front end in a snow bank. We would get up before dawn and drive to the local parking lot. There, a huge pile of snow awaited us. He would tell me to slam on the brakes, while pulling hard to the right on the steering wheel. This would send the car into a skid, and the result would be that I would bury the front end in the snow bank. He would then exit the car, and watch as I tried to get out of the bank. Once I was able to get out by myself and avoid hitting anything in the process, I was pronounced "ready" for the privilege of driving on the road with him.

Then came the day it snowed and mom wanted something from the store. Dad tossed me the keys and announced: "Let the boy do it. He can drive like a man."

That was a great day too.

Men, what rites of passage did you pass through on your way to manhood? What rites of passage do you bestow on your sons?

No comments :