Play + Aggressiveness = Strength & Safety

Whistle Stop

Dear Boy People,

Yesterday, my grand-nephew showed me, once again, how play and strength are the driving forces in boys becoming the men they were born to become.

We’re sitting in the Whistle Stop Restaurant in Birmingham, MI for lunch after a rousing two hour stint at the Robot Garage just down the street. Located just off the local train line, the restaurant has toy wooden trains and tracks to play with. Four year old Tyler grabbed a box of trains when we went to sit down, set up his trains and went into action telling me the story as he played. Our feet were touching each other under the table. Bingo! He starts swinging his leg, kicking my foot up into the air, eyes twinkling, watching for what I’m going to do next. As my foot comes down, he kicks again. And again. And again, all the time watching. What am I going to do? Will I “take it” or “do something?” I smiled and said, “you’re having fun kicking” and he nodded his head – and kicked again. This time, I pushed back with my foot, just enough that he could feel the force pressing against his own foot. Instantly, a smile opens across his face and his eyes sparkle even more. He kicks harder, I press back matching his force. Back and forth we go. He feels his strength met by my strength just enough to feel its safe presence without dominating and controlling him. With a smile and nod of the head, he’s done and back to the trains. The kicking game over for now.

Robot GarageThere was no malice. There was no intent to harm. No meanness. Or rudeness or disrespect or any of the other common perceptions of boy play. There was a challenge – really an invitation to play and feel, in the play, his strength met by my adult strength safely, securely, positively and peacefully. The play mission over. The strength mission accomplished. All was well.

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