By Regina Marian, CPS Partnership Community
One sublime summer afternoon relaxing with my daughter at her home in Alma, Colorado (side fact: at 10,578 ‘ Alma is the highest incorporated town in North America, which for some reason my older brother Skip loves to mention to folks after visiting us – funny), we sat outside watching her 3 year old Milo, my grandson, playing in the front yard. Front yards in the mountains are not what you see in sitcoms of suburbia. Instead of an expanse of Kentucky bluegrass with shrubs and azaleas, you see a vista of aspens, wildflowers, and evergreens whose needles fall to the ground forming a spongy mat interspersed with high altitude plants like kinnikinnick. Quite lovely though, and the pine smell in the air is divine.
Milo had a toy backhoe, a miniature of his dad’s, and was pushing it along a narrow path of sandy soil not far from where Shawnna and I were sitting. Suddenly he turned his head, his eyes lit up, and abandoning his excavator, he leaped onto a stick on the ground. He waddled around with his toddler-like unsteady gait whacking anything in sight with his newfound toy. Milo hit the trees, the boulders lying around, and even the low but strong (fortunately) kinnikinnick. He. Was. Happy!
Shaking her head, Shawnna said with a sigh, “Boys and sticks.”
As I sat beside her, my memory jolted into recalling my growing up years with 4 brothers. I had a vivid image of the myriad of times my brothers would find a stick and begin mutilating bushes, jumping up to decimate the leaves on the lower branches of our plentiful Pennsylvania trees, and eventually chasing each other. My 2 nephews, the next to be born, did the same thing. And then a vision of my dear sweet son a few years later ignoring his playthings to charge towards the first stick he ever saw. Let the whacking begin!!
I’m quite a bit older now – my oldest granddaughter will turn 21 in a few months – and the boys in the family have quit picking up sticks. I think. And they all turned out to be sweethearts. All the same, as I enjoy daily outings with my dog Loki, I pay attention to what the little ones in the neighborhood choose to do in nature. In the Spring I see the girls pick dandelions, believing these plants many think of as weeds, to be the loveliest of yellow flowers. And the little fellows, I know you see this coming, find sticks. Now in fairness to gender equality, I also have seen a little girl push over a young boy to take his bucket and shovel. And I have seen a little boy gently pick up a grasshopper and gaze at it with wonder before setting it back down. But really, what’s the deal with boys and sticks??
As I ponder with sadness the amount of violence in our world, I wonder where it all started. With the first tiny tot wielding a skinny branch fallen from a tree? And why, in general, do boys enjoy this action more than girls? We, and I include myself here, have placed this in the well-that’s-just-what-little-boys-do arena. But what if there is a connection between boys & sticks and men & guns? Certainly there must be studies about this, although our government repeatedly votes down gun violence studies.
Anyone reading this might propose their own hypotheses. Yet I don’t need to go there, because here’s my point. What if when we saw our small child pick up a stick and use it as something to inflict damage, we stopped them? Perhaps getting them to trade the stick for something a little less lethal. (Distraction has always been high on my list of tools when interacting with children.)
This may sound like a small thing and believe I am over-reacting, yet I think we need to pay more attention to what the youngest of us actually do. Patterns are set early. And each individual adds to the collective. As a therapist I know that behavior has meaning. And behavior has consequences. I also know that every choice resulting in positive, benign, beneficial actions makes a difference.
Regina Marian RN, MA is the founder of Lightdancer Open Heart Healing in Boulder, Colorado. She is an advocate for assisting the integration of the ‘Divine Feminine’ energy into the physical self of each being for the betterment of all. Regina has been in private practice and teaching workshops for over 30 years. Her classes about the Goddess, women’s herstory, women’s empowerment and healing are a large part of her group practice. http://lightdancerhealinginstitute.com/