What I wanted to say was, “That’s too hard, cut him some slack.”

What I did say was, nothing. But MAN was it hard to bite my tongue. That’s my little boy he’s talking to. (As in 6’1” and 220 pounds…”little” but he is my little boy.)

Such were my thoughts at the beginning of the summer when my husband told my sixteen year old son what was expected of him this summer.

We live on a little ranch, we have a barn, two horses and a very large back field in which the horses roam. Said back field is obviously fenced, lest we lose our large mammals. Said fence was in major disrepair and it had become necessary to replace the fence.

“Westley, you will spend your summer digging post holes, putting posts in the holes, filling them with concrete, and then we will work together to get a new fence in place. Sounds simple enough, simple is a vast understatement… for those who need a clearer picture…that’s a post hole every eight feet, that must be three feet deep in a three acre field.

Very important side notes…we live in Little Rock…emphasis on the rock, most every hole requires breaking rock to get to the three feet. We have had mostly 100+ temperatures all summer and little rain. The sun is blazing, the air is hot, the ground is hard…and that’s my “little” boy.

His directive, four post holes a day, five days a week.  Which most days took four hours. My “little boy” would come back in the house dripping, dirty, and looking displeased.

After the first week and a half he started “discussing” with his dad all the reasons he couldn’t go on. A couple of times the discussing got heated. Hubby heard him, but at the point he said, you must do this, period…my son backed down. My son then came up with a grand plan of borrowing an auger (hole digger) from a neighboring farmer. My husband didn’t budge, “Nope, you are digging those holes.”

Once again…I held my tongue…IT WAS SO HARD. In our room one night, I asked a couple of questions, “Why not an auger, that’s showing initiative? Don’t you think this is too much for him? Does he have to go out there when it’s really hot? Shouldn’t you do it with him? He would explain a bit, but he always mostly said, “Tracey, he needs to do this.”

I admit, I didn’t fully get it. Until last night.

Our son announced over dinner…I have seven holes left and as he looked up at us under those long bangs, a slow, broad grin overtook his tan, scruffy bearded face and what I saw in his eyes was sheer joy and a sense of accomplishment. I am certain his chest then puffed out and he grew two inches taller…before my eyes.

He and his father then started talking of the “epic nature” of his achievement, “You’ll tell your children about that fence! I’ll drive them out here and make them look at that fence!” And the tale got bigger and bigger the more they talked about it…but those two guys were reveling in the glory of the victory over the 100 mile fence! (I suddenly understand how fish get bigger and bigger after a day of fishing!)

Let it be known to all within reading distance, I was wrong. He didn’t need to cut him some slack, he needed to challenge him to step up – that’s how little boys become great, dependable, God-honoring men.

Moms…in the area of raising boys, learn to hold your tongue – our men know what they are doing.

Single moms, if a Grandfather, Uncle or family friend wants to challenge your son to a hard task, let them, and don’t come to your sons rescue – hold your tongue.  If men in your sons life haven’t offered, forward this post and ask…do you have a fence my son can put up for you?

If you have a “stepping up” story to share about your husband or son…please leave it in the comment section, or link to it on your own blog!

You might also enjoy:

:: Boys: Toddler to Teen Relationship Building

:: Summer Fun in the Mud

:: On Being Overprotective

:: How to Raise a Boy to be a Man