Sara Whitman

A Deep, Man Voice

Filed By Sara Whitman | September 19, 2008 11:00 AM | comments

Filed in: Living
Tags: puberty, smell like farts

Every time I hear it, I look to see if Walter is here. manvoice.jpgIf someone has come in the door I didn't know about.

A deep, man voice.

It's Ben's. His voice has almost completely changed into a deep baritone. I don't expect it in my house. I have little boys. Babies, really. Not almost grown men with hairy legs and voices with resonance.

The words that come out of the madly growing body don't quite match the maturity of the sound.

Jake! You smell like farts! Doesn't scream responsibility and social awareness. When those words come out, I'm never surprised, or caught off guard. It's the single words, or the chatting with the cats- to whom he is enormously polite- that I find jarring.

Who is that man?

My son is going to be thirteen this fall. Most of his friends will have bar or bats mitzvah's. They have studied long and hard a difficult language and how to read from the Torah. Even with candy studded events or sparkling disco balls twirling, there is a moment of being welcomed into the community as a man, or woman. A full member.

Of course these kids are still kids, by our American, modern standards, but there is something powerful about having to work for something that has a long tradition. The process does change them.

As an atheist, I'm not sure what makes the most sense for my boys. We attend the Unitarian Universalist church but have become lax in the last couple of years. But I'm not sure I want the passage to manhood be marked by some religious event.

I don't believe in religion as much as I don't believe in God. I think Karl Marx was right in that religion is the opiate for the masses. It sooths people into accepting plights they should never accept.

How does my son transition into being a man? The physical changes are clear. The emotional ones are harder to define. He has more responsibility now than before and more freedom.

And he still tells his brother he smells like farts.

It's going to be an interesting year, with this growing young man in my house. He will need to learn to be a part of a community, to be kind when it's hard to, to lose at times and graciously win, remembering the sting of being on the other side. He needs to do for others outside himself- more than buy a slice of pizza for a pal out of cash. He needs to start to understand there are great injustices in our world- and has been for centuries.

He will need to understand some people will hate him without even knowing his name.

At the same time, he is exploring a body full of new and amazing sensations. With all the tingles, excitement and joy comes responsibility. First loves. Heartbreaks.

He's not a baby anymore. All these years and you'd think I'd be prepared. I'm not. His deep voice, though, startles me back to reality.

I have a young man in my house.

With much to learn.


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Robert Ganshorn Robert Ganshorn | September 20, 2008 1:10 AM

Sara, your concerns are beautiful, but his "learning" is now largely already out of your hands. I know you are going to engage him and talk with him and have "real" conversations with him. Hopefully he will want to have them with you, but at thirteen that is wishing for the moon. Still I hope he does, but the age he is right now you will never know what is on his mind other than the obvious thing...

All older brothers are evil to their younger brothers. Polite to cats? Maybe the younger brother needs to be in a cat suit. Younger brothers get all the indignities and none of the advantages. Yeah I was a younger and if my mother said it once to me she said it a hundred times. "Oh no you can't, we learned when we let your brother do that!" :)

Hang in there supermom!