The Liberty Gazette
January 7, 2014Ely Air Lines
By Mike Ely and Linda Street-Ely
Mike: Standing high upon a rocking and swaying platform leaning into the strong winds the boy holds fast to the mast. He shades his eyes to the blazing sun with his other hand looking out on deep blue swelling waters as their tops curl into waves. The black flag is flapping behind him and he thinks he sees another ship or possibly a tree on an island in the distance when his concentration is interrupted by a shout from below. Down through the branches Mother is hollering for him – its time to go and he has to come down now.
Arduously climbing down through interlocking brambles of branches, he voices a protest he knows will not prevail, "Awe Mom, now?" Even then he is imagining sliding down the fasting rope from the Jolly Roger’s crow’s nest, back into reality.
Norman Rockwell’s "Boyhood Dreams" was one of a four-painting series covering the four seasons. In the summer painting a young boy has set his garden hoe aside and sits on a split rail fence as he and his dog watch a train chug down the tracks in the distance. How many boys and girls daydream of places just over the hill? How about acting these out as they scurry up to their fort precariously built among the tallest branches of a large tree? Think of the thrill of building that hide-a-way and the adventures to be had there.
The other day I was having lunch with Dean Doolittle, EAA Chapter 12’s Young Eagles coordinator. He told me of a Boy Scout troop in Houston that has over 200 scouts. I was shocked to hear that Dean approached the group several times to offer Young Eagles flights – a highly successful program now in its 24the year, having introduced nearly two million children to the wonders of flight - yet not one of the boys in that particular troop has participated.
We learned that it isn't the scouts’ lack of interest stopping them, but their parents’ fears.
Do parents listen to their children’s hopes and encourage their dreams throughout early development continuing on into adolescence and young adulthood? Or do they quash them or try and replace those dreams with their own? Are we creating future leaders that are scared of their own shadows by holding them back?
I don’t advocate reckless behavior but I do encourage young people to develop their imaginations and expand their boundaries. I can appreciate and sympathize with parents wanting to protect their young ones, remembering my mother’s similar desires, but she finally let me loose and in doing so, encouraged me to soar.
Being dangerous is part of a boy’s (and some girls’) DNA. What do boys do when they go camping? They hunt up snakes, lizards and all sorts of gruesome and terrifying creatures. They'll do that anyway given half a chance. But if they are never allowed the freedom to roam, raised as risk-averse, they likely will become fear-driven and never stand up when it matters most. Perhaps we should send those scout parents "The Dangerous Book for Boys."
Slipping the bonds of earth and overcoming gravity is just one adventure that awaits. Searching for far-off lands, being a sheriff in an old west town or just sailing on the open seas are all worthy dreams. Happy trails – and let your boys be boys.