Saturday, September 19, 2009

Out with one of the girls but thinking about how boys are

S. and I took the dog for a long walk this afternoon. The day was perfect and we had plenty of time on our hands so we took a long detour. We went through a remote and hilly bit of woods. As we walked along, we came across evidence of improvements to the trails: At first, little embankments to curves and later some small jumps made out of boulders, logs and dirt made it evident that kids were using the trails for bike-riding. As we climbed up the hill and it became more steep, the jumps got to be extreme. One was made of lumber and was a ramp that started from the ground on the up hill side and was attached to two saplings on the downhill side. The drop-off on the downhill side was about 7 feet! I estimated from looking from the end of the ramp that jumpers would be landing around 30 feet down the hill.

S. was aghast. "Boys are crazy" she said, "Girls would never do this kind of thing". She was also kind of surprised that boys would go to such effort to build structures which must have taken much time and organization to complete. When the kids play capture the flag and it is boys against girls, the girls always win. She explained that the girls make plans while the boys just make their plans as they play.

A couple of thoughts began to percolate in my mind, but it took a while for them to fully form.

Boys are not fearless and they really do not like to plan everything out ahead of time, but they can ease their way into both things. The way I envision it is that they started with a small jump that could be made with a fallen log and some rocks and dirt. Now they were used to making things and the thrill of a small jump, so they progressively made bigger and more elaborate jumps and became inured to the risks gradually as jumps became more elaborate. We just saw the end of a long learning curve--they just didn't decide out the the blue to spend weeks building a suicidally high jump and then have the nerve to use it. They got there in a gradual and natural way.

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