(This was originally written in July 2006 on my really old blog but I wanted to share it again for the week of the Fourth of July.)
This is a photo of Robert, his nephew Matt and I at last year’s fireworks display at Grove City (2005). We played it like a tight little crew, tucked up in back of Bob’s green Ford Ranger, along with Hannah, Matt’s sister.
Matt had the greatest time, oooing and aahing at all of the brilliant bursts of colors and sounds. We even have pictures of him jumping up and down at the excitement of it all.
But this year, a different story will be told.
I don’t think Matt could have put into words the fact that he noticed, but, I think the story hinges on the fact that big strong Uncle Bob was not there to protect the little boy Matt from the great big scary fireworks (Bob was in Iraq in 2006). At first, he decided that he wanted to sit in his own chair, because (I assume) that’s what big boys do. They don’t sit in the laps of aunts or cousins or friends like scaredy cats. So that’s what he did. But as soon as the fireworks started, I could feel and see him tense up. And he said, “I want home.” I said, “Matt, are you scared?” and he said, “Yes,” and since his Aunt Katie was the first to invite him to sit with her earlier, I said, “Let’s take you to sit with Aunt Katie, ok?” He said, “OK.” So we did, and when he got over there, he put his baseball glove over his head like a helmet, to drown out the noise and protect his head from falling fireworks, I suppose. After a few minutes, he said it was still too loud, so Katie put her hands over his ears. She asked, “Are you scared?” and he said, “Yes.”
She said, “When I was little, I was scared of fireworks, too.”
And Matt…little boy Matt…who was himself very afraid at that moment, and was BEING protected at that moment…who last year sat unafraid in big strong Uncle Bob’s lap, learning what it meant to be protected when you’re afraid by a man who knows what it means to BE unafraid himself…said to his Aunt Katie,
“WHEN YOU WERE AFRAID, I WOULD HAVE COVERED YOUR EARS, IF I WERE A MAN.”
and the way he said it, implied the meaning of “man” to be “mature male” not simply “male.”
Katie, Brandi and I looked at each other like, “Did the little boy with a glove on his head just say that? Did he just understand this idea that a man’s job is to protect a woman?”
And I (emphasis on me), thought to myself, is Matt scared this year because Bob is not here? He wasn’t like this at all last year. Did Bob cover his ears last year, and that’s where he learned that a “man” would cover your ears when you’re scared? I know sometimes this blog turns into a “gush about Bob blog”, but later in the evening, someone else caught onto this idea, too, so at least I’m not the only one gushing. There’s a little boy in Grove City who feels safe watching fireworks with noone else but Bob, because my Bob – is a MAN, and little Matt Kinney knows it.
And you know – I’m not JUST saying that to gush about Robert. I’m saying that because there ARE dads reading this. And moms, too. Or soon to be moms and dads. You know, your kids are watching and listening. Your boys need men in their lives to know how to be wild and brave and strong. And everyone, if you haven’t read Wild At Heart, by John Eldredge yet, you HAVE to read it. It’s probably no coincidence that I was re-skimming it this morning just to check out some of my old highlights, huh? God probably wanted me to be tuned in for this interaction tonight.
“I would cover your ears if I was a man.” Amen.