16 hours chaperoning junior high school boys. The thought terrified me.
But because Son #1 asked me, over and over again, I eventually relented and agreed to chaperone his jr. high show choir field trip to Six Flags Great America. I was still terrified. I might spend my days in the company of boys, but those are my boys, boys I've known from the womb. The idea of spending the better part of a day -- at an amusement park, no less -- with 3 or 4 unknown-to-me preteen boys was my idea of torture.
I was wrong.
The boys were wonderful. They were respectful. They were polite. They were responsible, age-appropriate and considerate. They were, in word, a delight.
A lot of credit goes to their director. He drills and instills respect and hard work. He emphasizes character building. And he stresses team work. He's also an excellent music teacher, but for the boys in his show choir, he's much more than that. He's teaching them by example how to be men.
In his book The Purpose of Boys, author Michael Gurian writes of boys' need for male connection and role models, particularly as they enter their teen years. "At a certain point — puberty and beyond — males...naturally need to look to other males to try to understand how they're supposed to be loving, wise and responsible men," Gurian told USA Today.
Mr. K focuses a lot of time and effort on creating a top-notch show choir, but I think the messages he sends by example are even more important. He's showing the boys how to be a dedicated community member, how to nurture the next generation and how to treat others with respect. He's also showing them that it's possible to be a success while doing all of the above. Those are the messages our boys need to see.
And if today is any example, I'd say the boys are picking up on the message.