Love Your Boys

I’m thinking that sometimes we are pretty hard on boys.  You know, the old nursery rhyme and such…

Lawn Mowing

From Wikipedia, the original version…

In the earliest known versions, the first ingredient for boys is either “snips” or “snigs”,[7] the latter being a Cumbrian dialect word for a small eel.

The rhyme sometimes appears as part of a larger work called “What Folks Are Made Of” or “What All the World Is Made Of”. Other stanzas describe what babies, young men, young women, sailors, soldiers, nurses, fathers, mothers, old men, old women, and all folks are made of. According to Iona and Peter Opie, this first appears in a manuscript by the English poet Robert Southey (1774–1843), who added the stanzas other than the two below.[1] Though it is not mentioned elsewhere in his works or papers, it is generally agreed to be by him.[8]

The relevant section in the version attributed to Southey was:

What are little boys made of made of
What are little boys made of
Snips & snails & puppy dogs tails
And such are little boys made of.

What are young women made of
Sugar & spice & all things nice[1]


What are little boys made of?
What are little boys made of?
Slugs and snails
And puppy-dogs’ tails,
That’s what little boys are made of.

What are little girls made of?
What are little girls made of?
Sugar and spice
And everything nice,
That’s what little girls are made of.[1]

Today, I am just so grateful for my son and know that the world would be so different without him.  I pray that all parents…and teachers…and women…will do their best to let their boys know that they are not all about snails and slugs.

Unofficial music video for the song “To Just Grow Away” off of the new album “There’s No Leaving Now,” by The Tallest Man on Earth (out now via Dead Oceans). Footage is from the 1969 short film, “A Day with the Boys,” by Clu Gulager.

To Just Grow Away

We’re melting ruby hearts
a confusing trade
to burn the ore
to shape a blade
then to swing it low
beginners fate
to lose a skin
to just grow away
Like a rain, to help a river
but a river so hard to please
but I’ve grown to see the diamonds
you’ve thrown in just for me
We spent so many nights
just gathering stones
the silver tears
old sapphire bones
all the copper leaves
then dreamt, now true
look how they find their path
to cut right through
Like a rain, to help a river
but a river so hard to please
but I’ve grown to see the diamonds
you’ve thrown in just for me
Look when your hopeless child will figure
there are moments when hope’s not
only real when flagging far down a road
with an armful broken arrows
and no hand free for the bow
your kid will lose a battle
but your ways
will let him go
I lose my wish to drown
and aimless flee
what you’ve thrown to lose
is still right here with me.

More from The Tallest Man On Earth:……

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3 thoughts on “Love Your Boys

  1. I like the first picture, at the top of this post. I’ve never heard the poem. Nor have I had the impression that young boys are disrespected in most of the world’s cultures…

  2. The photograph is of my father, with my son. My boy is now 23 years old. This was when my parents owned a property in Frankford, Ontario, situated right on the Trent-Severn Lock system. I spared my readers (you) any commentary on my views about ‘boys’. I’m just thinking that socially, we have raised boys to ‘be a certain way’, haven’t we? And…it’s really unfair. I’m going to spare you a long narrative, but, I just want us to work together to create a childhood for boys where they CAN BE sensitive…they CAN cry…they don’t have to be the HUNTER anymore.

  3. As they often do, your post touched my heart. My two boys are the root of my life. I am so proud of them in every way. There were times that they were “Hunters” as all boys will be, but they grew out of that knowing that it was only a fantasy. They were never raised to meet any stereotype of what boys should be and have found their own way to be loving, compassionate and self-confident men who face the world with humour and joy in living. I am honoured to call them friends and to share their tears and laughter. This all just to say that it doesn’t have to be like the old rhymes, for boys or for girls…

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