Editorial: On ‘boys being boys’

  • Lauren Gottschalk-Scher spends time with sons Azure, 3, Ember, 5, and Onyx, 7, at their home in Florence, Sept. 26, 2018. STAFF PHOTO/CAROL LOLLIS

Published: 10/22/2018 8:12:03 AM

Recently, we ran a cover story in Hampshire Life about raising three boys under eight years old that continues to be read and shared online. Lauren Gottschalk-Scher’s article, “Raising boys: The awesome and exhausting responsibility of shaping the next generation of men" — which brings to mind the humor of the late, great Erma Bombeck — includes descriptions of boys throwing dirt clumps, hanging out in their beloved porta potty and screaming threats like, “I’m going to twist your butt off until you can’t poop anymore!” 

It resonated with readers, particularly those raising boys. On Facebook, people commented on how true to life the piece was and how, by sharing her unvarnished truth, Gottschalk-Scher made them feel less flawed, less judged and less alone as parents. One reader remarked on how boys are every bit as deep-feeling as girls, and our tendency as a society is to label boys as having ADHD for expressing those emotions loudly and physically, as they tend to do. Parents often feel shamed by the loud and physical ways boys express themselves and appreciated Gottschalk-Scher for sharing the things that go undiscussed.

But we also got a letter asking, what about fathers? For the record, Gottschalk-Scher’s husband is a devoted dad who’s also the owner of a small local business, which means that Gottschalk-Scher takes care of the kids on afternoons during the school year and through the dog days of summer. She says her husband was working and traveling most of the summer, and he works from school dismissal until bedtime.

She generously shared her story, giving readers a wonderfully candid and heartfelt look into her daily life, which encapsulates the maxim often repeated by grandparents: The days are long, but the years are short.​​​​​​

* * *

Hampshire Life is a place for features of all kinds, including first-person essays and opinion pieces. Late last week, columnist Bill Dwight ruminated on the lifetime appointment of Brett Kavanaugh to the Supreme Court in his essay “Advise and Consent.” Of the proceedings, Dwight wrote that the judge’s “tears were not those of a man wracked by sorrow but the whining of a child on the verge of being cheated out of his birthright.”

Dwight has used his column to contemplate American masculinity before. In the wake of the Las Vegas shooting last October, he observed that “one common element all of these recent gunmen share is rarely discussed or analyzed … It’s so obvious that we don’t even acknowledge it, but it seems to me that it’s relevant. Critical, in fact. They are GunMEN. The answer is embedded in the noun.”

In his most recent reflection, Dwight examines his own role, from adolescence through adulthood, as a “relatively passive bystander in situations that, in retrospect, needed me to say something or do something and I stood mute.”

Men should be a part of the conversation, and many of them are joining in. “I have the room to hope, where many women are entitled to their skepticism, for a time when we universally spurn the frat boy pack arrogance that considers assault as courtship, sex as achievement and women as prey,” Dwight wrote.

“It is incumbent on all of us, but particularly men, to not just move beyond this moment, but linger here for a while … sit with the raw feelings and have an honest evaluation of our parts in this cruelty.”

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