Boys Becoming Men

The Co-Pilot. July 2012

Thirteen for a boy seems like it should be a big deal. Maybe it’s all the Bar Mitzvah’s we’ve been to, but I like that definitive transition from boy to man. In the Native American tradition, I’ve threatened to send him into the woods alone for a few weeks to fend for himself with nothing but a jack knife , but he didn’t go for it.

It’s a shame we don’t have better traditions and ceremonies for transitioning from childhood to adulthood in the rather secular culture many of us live in.

Instead, we went down to the bank today where he finally qualified for a real Debit card, rather than just the all-but-useless ATM card that only allows you to pull money out of a cash machine. He came home with a packet from the bank explaining all the fees now associated with his account. No more baby bank accounts for this man. Gotta love how in the good ‘ol USA, one’s transition from childhood to adulthood is signified with more credit. Perfect.

Oddly, I haven’t gone down the fatherless boy rabbit hole this year. Maybe because I see he’s becoming a man even without his father around. His growth has not been stunted, he’s not girly, he knows how to pee standing up, tie a tie, turn a screw driver, jail break an iPhone. Stuff he learns on YouTube, or from friends – both his, Olivia’s and mine.

I should hardly be surprised. I saw his dad, (fatherless from the age of 17) do the same thing – adopt men into his life who could fill in the gaps.

Funny how these danged kids turn out just fine despite us.

Happy Birthday Bean-o. I’m so proud of you.

PS: Let me know if you want me to drive you to the woods anytime soon.

This message has been approved by “the man.”




(Visited 51 times, 1 visits today)


  1. BigLittleWolf September 9, 2012 at 7:01 pm

    What a wise and tender piece of writing. They do indeed figure out much more than we realize.

    I look back at my boys when they were 13 – only a few years past that – and see how much they change between 13 and 16. How odd that we deem 13 that transitional age. The reality appears to be closer to 15 or 16. (And girls? So much earlier…)

  2. Holy September 15, 2012 at 1:32 pm

    check out Rite of Passage Journeys (, a local Seattle rites of passage organization. They lead transformative and initiatory trips to the Olympic Peninsula from youth from ages 9 to 18 *(and adults and communities too)….life grounding and changing stuff. My son went off to the woods to learn how to “live more deliberately” when he was 13 and he came back, articulating a life’s calling and a sense of purpose far beyond his young years.

Leave A Comment