Two boys, who happen to share my last name, were engaged in a rather heated disagreement last week (Perhaps they were discussing provincial equalization payments?) when the younger of the two came up with a profoundly old-fashioned solution. I believe he put it this way: “Let’s fight.”
Both lads immediately turned to me. Their look wasn’t so much a search for approval so much as it was a statement of fact: “We’re doing this — no matter what you say.” I paused for a moment before blurting, “No swinging.”
My wife was immediately and utterly appalled. “No fighting! Stop them!”
Before I could begin to explain why I believe that in a more perfect world all boys can verbalize all of their disagreements and peacefully process all of their problems, but that occasionally, as long as there is not a great imbalance of power, and both boys want to engage, it’s ok to let them wrestle some truths to the ground -– the two knuckleheads were already rolling in the grass.
My wife went running for the water hose, in the hope of dousing the combatants into a state of peace and equanimity. While she was searching for the UN of household accoutrements, the younger of the two was already displaying great energy and enthusiasm. Eventually, though, the bigger, older brother won out, thus ensuring that the moral order of the universe would prevail, at least for at least another day.
As the boys, now exhausted but in an apparently peaceful state of mind, walked away, I gave my wife a knowing and thoroughly self-satisfied look, and I began to quietly congratulate myself. “Power, you have such a deep and intuitive understanding of male adolescents. Perhaps this gift might lend itself to an article in “Old Times”? I can see it now: ‘Power the Boy Whisperer.’ Perhaps someone might, in a splurge of creativity, then turn this piece into a documentary? I wonder if we could get this done in time for the Toronto International Film Festival?”
My momentary reverie, though, was immediately interrupted by a loud bang. It turned out that one of the combatants still harbored some ill feeling, and had impulsively decided to put his fist through a wall. The dream of “Power and Peace in Our Time” immediately dissipated.
The look my wife gave me at that moment suggested that, perhaps in hindsight, we might want to save that “Boy Whisperer” article for the winter edition of the school magazine. My only consolation was the realization that we had already missed the Hot Docs deadline.