The Canadian Writers' Collective

Writing, and writerly tangents

Thursday, June 22, 2006

How to Ease Your Momma’s Boy into the Writing Life

By Antonios Maltezos

I don’t care how vigilante you mommas are, your preschool boys will eventually start building weapons, slingshots, bows and arrows, and wooden swords to test against their playmates. It’s a powerful urge they’re feeling, a drive to manhood… yes, even at such a young age. They’re training for war, mommas. Look closely at their monkey bar games, the way certain boys always seem to take over the fort while others sulk in the sandbox.

You should be getting nervous by the time your boy hits the teens, because he’s watching a lot of TV, The Greatest American Hero, or something, and his mind wants to leap forward a couple years to when he’ll be looking good in tights and the blows will glance off his chiseled jaw. He’s getting ready to leap farther than he probably should, farther than he’s ready. Not so bad if he’s one of those gutsy kids with loads of charisma and great hand/eye coordination. But if he’s like I was, he’ll need your help. Go out and buy him a plastic gun, a green one, a 9mm with molded parts that don’t move except for the trigger. He’ll think about that 9mm, one day, when he’s cornered and he realizes he can’t fly, ands he’s fed-up with always being the one having to roll on the ground grimacing as if in pain, pretending to die. But chances are he’ll only just think about unloading that plastic green gun on someone, and then he’ll put it away with all the other crap he’s got building on a pile in the corner of his teenager bedroom.

I mean, that’s basically it, right? We shame them by buying them guns they’ll never use. Fuck ‘em up by allowing that other woman, Mother Nature, to have her way. And God forbid should they ever have an actual gun in hand, because they’ve all been training since the playground. (Please don’t comment on this post by telling me how overly sensitive and thoughtful your boys are, and how they play with Barbies. I ain’t talking about those kinds of boys.)

So this, in a nutshell, is my simple formula for making a man out of your boy. Just let him be. Boys will be boys; after all… just don’t be too alarmed when you see him rolling on the ground struggling against the inevitable. He’s learning about heroics. Take out your cameras instead, mommas, because a good death is second only to a good kill. I’ve known this since the age of five, or six. By seven, I was itching to get on a team. Boys yearn for the real-life wounds, moms, those scrapes and bruises inflicted by others.

Buy him a plastic gun, for heavens sake, so he can fight back, at least.

But what if your boy decides he wants to be a writer? What then? Does he have enough muscle between the ears to pull it off? Is there even a muscle for the brain? Hopefully, he’s a natural, and the writing will come easy. Um, but I don’t think so.

He’s probably just a screwed up kid who started by scrawling satanic lyrics in blue ball-point, helter skelter so you have to keep rotating the paper to read the words. You’ll need to intervene, quickly, so his pen doesn’t become a weapon. I’m serious. Do what you must, you lovely, blameless mommas. He’ll be dreaming up new wars, otherwise.

But you needn’t despair. I also have a simple formula for making a thoughtful writer out of your boy.

Buy him a pet, a sickly one who’ll lick his toes for a while, and then die at his feet, fall with a thud one morning as your boy stretches his legs. You’ll be there for him, of course, crushing him between your bosoms, forcing him to cry, shush… shush… shushing him as he blathers on and on about how cruel life is. If your husband catches wind… of the sobbing, I mean, tell him your boy is a writer, and writers are neither male nor female. If you’re lucky, your husband will blank out at this point, leaving you to your work turning this failed little soldier into a man who’s in touch with his emotions.

Momma, he’ll lash out at you from time to time, but you’ve got to stay strong. You have to realize that this is your struggle, too, your personal test. That bitch, Mother Nature, she wants to take him from you. She’d rather see him rolling on the ground, dying his noble death, than give him up. But you can do it, momma, keep him in the light, though it’ll be a lifelong struggle. Even if he marries—especially if he marries, you’ll still have to come around and make him that tomato sandwich he loves so much, lightly toasted bread, slathered in butter and then mayonnaise, with just a pinch of salt on the tomatoes—no lettuce. A side of chips, please. His wife will want a warrior king, Momma, so keep your bosoms ever vigilante.

He is a boy, after all, and boys will be boys.


Blogger Tricia Dower said...

This made me smile, Antonios, as well as reflect on my own little boy who looked like he was going to be an artist until maybe age 8 or 9 when he got into sports and started blowing up his GI Joes with caps and firecrackers. He ended up in the US Marines for 9 years. He's been letting his artistic side out recently through photography (he took the photo of Colin and me dancing) and occasionally writes a bit of fiction.

Thu Jun 22, 02:51:00 pm GMT-4  
Blogger J.A. McDougall said...

This post is written extremely well, and there are many things that have me thinking. My two boys are still quite young; it is hard to imagine them as teens and adults. Thanks for the insight from a man in touch.

Thu Jun 22, 04:19:00 pm GMT-4  
Blogger Steve Gajadhar said...

Great stuff. You've captured alot of the things young men go through, and from a unique, teen-turned-father, perspective.

Thu Jun 22, 04:25:00 pm GMT-4  
Blogger Patricia said...

This made me smile too Tony. My son is six, soon to be seven. He makes swords out of everything imaginable, we hunt the woods for good sticks for doing battle. It makes me ache to think of him grown, the time we have with our children is so precious. He'll be a brave warrior. Thanks Tonyxo

Fri Jun 23, 06:53:00 pm GMT-4  
Blogger Carol Novack said...

A little gem of CNF, Tony. You should be a columnist! Ahem! Ahso!

Mon Jun 26, 12:23:00 am GMT-4  

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