The whine of the garbage truck squealed for too long in front of our house. I had overfilled the large receptacle and walked to the window with dread. Sure enough, the driver was out of the truck, picking up trash. Just as I went to help him, he reared back and kicked the can five feet.
“He just kicked the can down the street,” I yelled to our 14 -year -old son as I hurried to find my shoes so I could outside to have a word with him. At the very least I was going to call his superiors to complain; nobody kicks our can.
By the time I got to the end of the driveway though, the can sat upright and the trash truck was gone. I picked up the remaining trash and turned to go inside.
I was met by our huffing 6', 215 pound seventeen -year -old. When our middle boy saw me go outside, he went to rally his brothers.
“Where is he?”
“He’s gone honey, but he picked up the can,” I said.
“I’m going to find him, you don’t do that,” he said while looking up and down the street.
“It’s okay, let’s just let it go.”
It was like talking down a prize- fighter facing his biggest opponent, but somehow I convinced him to go inside.
As we walked back, I was struck by the protective hearts boys have. I am so used to defending them, protecting and softening the blow, that I didn’t even question charging outside to confront a visibly angry man.
In Ephesians 5:25, God commands husbands to love their wives. A big part of loving is protecting. I realized my boys are not going to kick into protection mode the day they are married. It is up to me to allow them to be the protector; to respect the way God has wired them to treat all women.
When they are young, we encourage imaginary play that allows them to be the hero. As they grow and playing pretend isn’t as acceptable, opportunities to singlehandedly save the world are put away with childish things.
Our boys are 17, 14 and 12. The need to be the hero in a world where there aren’t many, is more critical than ever. The acknowledgement of their warrior hearts and the way God has wired them is validating, freeing and respectful to a young man.
The “angry trash man” was an opportunity to let the boys defend and protect. I have to proactively look for situations where the boys can be heroes. Then someday, they'll be heroes to their wife and children.