One of the best lines ever from John Eldredge’s book Wild at Heart pertains to raising boys and I quote:
“The recipe for fun is pretty simple raising boys: Add to any activity an element of danger, stir in a little exploration, add a dash of destruction, and you’ve got yourself a winner.” (page 13)
That sentence was me to a tee when I was a kid. My parents demanded that I respect the property of others, but growing up in a small rural town in the Midwest left a lot of latitude for “guy stuff.”
My neighborhood was full of boys, for the most part all a lot older than me. My twin brother and I loved it though; these were cool guys. On the 4th of July, the old plastic models that we didn’t want to keep came out, and we doused them with gasoline and exploded them with firecrackers. Some of you are probably shrieking about now.
In hindsight, it’s amazing to me that none of us got hurt, but I think we also had a lot of respect for what could happen to us if we were not careful.
When I was in the 5th or 6th grade as I recall, I decided to make my own gunpowder. I figured out the formula from one of my dad’s old college chemistry books. Then I marched up-town (total population 1,000) to the drugstore and asked to buy sulfur and saltpeter (potassium nitrate) right over the counter; no problem sonny! What is so funny about this is that the druggist had to know what I was doing and he was a lifelong friend of my dad’s.
Back home I went. I mixed everything up and then added in more gunpowder from a bunch of old firecracker-duds that I had saved. I packed the gunpowder tightly into a heavy cardboard tube that I picked up from my dad’s store. The tricky part was how to ignite the gunpowder because I did not have any fusing material. After a little thinking, I decided to use the wire filament out of an old TV vacuum tube and I wired it up and buried it down in the powder tightly. I connected the wires to my electric train transformer and that was connected to a long 50 foot extension cord.
When I plugged the extension cord in, the most incredible explosion that I had ever heard occurred. It was off the charts! It freaked me out.
My dad was home for lunch at the time and he rushed out to see what had happened. I honestly don’t remember a thing he said…perhaps I have blotted it out of my mind…but the incident cured me from making any more gunpowder. My respect for gunpowder increased about 100-fold that day.
The bottom line Moms and Dads is that most boys have a streak of the “John Eldredge” line woven deeply within their souls. If all you do is try to quench it, the hunger for that bit of adventure will often just find a way of escape that is simply beyond your gaze. Wise are the parents who understand this bent and provide a guided outlet that fosters the adventure they seek, develops the wisdom and respect that they need, and permits the lifelong memories that you will all one day cherish to happen.