A boy crush

January 24th, 2010

What do you call it when small boys start looking up to father figures, start seeking the approval of men? Is it hero-worship? Role-modeling? A boy-crush? I see it at hockey practice, Small Boy looking to his trainers for a well done, a high five. He is especially attached to M (who is my favorite trainer as well) and I see Small Boy glancing over at him as he goes through the drills, looking for his approval. M does an excellent job of singling out each kid at least for a moment, calling each by name, issuing a bravo, a tap on the butt with his stick, a personal correction to a shoulder here, an ankle there. He teaches them seriously – they are learning real skills – then suddenly he’s got one tossed over his shoulder and the other kids are chasing after him. The kids all love him.

They’re good with the kids, these patient men, even D, the gruff head of the program who I initially didn’t much care for. He pats the kids on their helmets and gives them fist bumps after an hour being being stern with them, of calling out: “Hoi, Gillas! Was ha’ni sait!?”* “Hallo, das geht nicht beim Bambinis.”** “Pfudli am Wand! Pfudli am Wand, Augen zu mir!” *** Even he will suddenly smile a surprisingly warm smile at one of the littlest ones tripping over his own stick. These trainers either actually are genuinely fond of each of these children – and at a full Saturday practice there are almost fifty of them – or they have perfected the illusion.

And in return the kids work hard for them. The Small Boy works hard for them, works especially hard for M, listens to him, seeks his approval. M is the first in a long line of men who will mean, in fits and starts and cold hours on the ice, more to my son than I do.

I understand now, why at the first training of the season D thanked us parents “fuer ihre Vertrauen” – for your trust. For trusting them with our children. When I see the way Small Boy glows under M’s praise, I understand that I really have handed my son over to them for the hour.

What’s the word for it, this first hunt for approval? Hero-worship? Role-modeling? Boy-crush? Whatever the word, my boy’s got it. I am grateful.


* Hey, kids! What did I say?
** Hello. That won’t fly in the Bambinis (the official youth hockey team you have to be selected for. Anybody under 8 can go to the hockey school, but you have to be picked to be a Bambini)
*** Butts up against the boards! Butts up against the boards and eyes on me!

2 Responses to “A boy crush”

  1. Gretchen on January 24, 2010 2:42 pm

    Small Boy is entering The World of Men. I recently read the book “Raising Boys” by Steve Bidduph. He states that at about the age of 6 most boys begin to detach slightly from their mothers and start to look to the men in their lives to show them how to go the rest of the way to adulthood.

    Small Boy is fortunate to have not only these fine men, but your husband, his father and brother. All excellent role models to teach him how to be a man.

    And he will always love Mama too!

  2. Jennifer on January 27, 2010 3:22 pm

    I knew it would happen, but I admit to being a little surprised to see it so early in a boy who has three men deeply involved in his everyday life.

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