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My husband took a day off work today and so we all get a “holiday” from our studies. In lieu of the studying that we would all usually be doing today, my sons (and my youngest daughter) are working alongside of their dad to finish building a fire pit in our backyard. This project really belongs to my oldest son, but he is getting help and direction from his dad and the help of his siblings. This is a project that they’ve been working on for some time, usually in the evenings and/or on the weekends, but today is the “big” day. Today the decorative rock goes on around the outside. Today the fire pit starts to look not only useful, but also beautiful.

As I watch my sons and my husband working together, I realize that I’m watching something special. I’ve always loved to see sons working alongside their dads. This is something that I’ve been privileged to watch in our home many times.

About 6 years ago, we were building an addition to our home. It was a pretty big job. We added a two story, 1200 sq ft addition onto the side of our home. My boys were at the tender ages of 7 and 9 when we began and yet over and over again I watched them do work that I, and I believe most people, would have considered to be the work of men. They didn’t really leave their dad’s side at all when he was working, and they also carefully watched over each and every contractor that came to our home. One contractor related to us that our son had noticed that he had forgotten to caulk a couple of areas on the deck and had stayed on top of him (for 3 days) until he did it. Luckily he was a patient  man who took it all in stride and didn’t mind being overseen by a child.

We didn’t get much “school” done that year. But our boys are no worse for it. In fact, I think that that year was probably among the most valuable of all the years of their development. In great measure that year, I watched my two small boys become men. Oh sure, they still had some growing to do in many ways, but they made great strides that year in some other very important ways. I believe that their confidence in themselves and in their ability to do hard things grew exponentially “the year we built the house”. My boys learned to be hard workers when hard work is needed. People notice that about my boys, and that is nice, but there is so much more to it than simply their ability and willingness to do hard work…it’s something intangible. I suppose it is that quality that we recognize as “manliness”. I think that part of that quality is a quiet assurance that come what may, they will have the strength and the ability to learn what they need to learn, to do what needs to be done in their lives, and to be what they need to be. As I’ve watched, I’m convinced that this quality comes most readily as a young boy works side by side with his father or other important and good men in his life.

I still have some pondering to do on this topic, but one thing that I’m sure of as I watch my husband work with my sons to build a fire pit…he’s not really building a fire pit, he’s building men…and I love him all the more for that.

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