Boys’ Don’t Cry. Unless they do.

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Horatio strapped on his footy boots, which are fluro orange, chosen as I can identify him on the field. His grandfather watched him, and made the comment that “Back in my day footy boots were black. Or black”

We were playing a team from the inner west and the stereotypes of both that area and us in the North Shore were plain to see, and hilarious. Our team all had names like Will, or Tom while the oppositions team had far more creative names, like Nero and Enzo. The inner west parents were dressed in black from head to toe, with a few man buns thrown in, where as our team was well represented with puffer vests and golden retrievers. A generalisation? Sure. But it was also fairly evident to which team you belonged to.

The coaches of the two teams could not have been more polar opposite if it was at all possible. One was fired up, and loudly vocalised his desire for his team to “smash” and “slay” and “annihilate” where as the other coach spoke to the boys in low, quiet and calming tones. He spoke to the team about the importance of communication and support, and how they should have a great, fun game.

During the game there were a few injuries and again, the responses from the coaches were very different. “Get up. Stop being such a girl…” I heard and it took all my effort not to unleash my inner mongrel on that man.

And as the full time whistle went, and after the pre-match play was discussed, where each and every boy was named and congratulated on something that they contributed to the match, I went up to our coach and told him how much I appreciated the way that he treats the kids. They respect and adore him, as he showers them with really positive reinforcement. It is these types of men that I believe are the best role models for our boys.

Growing up is hard. You have all these crazy feelings and hormones and self doubt. We have programmed boys over centuries, to adhere to a certain behaviour and “Harden the fuck up.” But the truth is, they are like you and me. They are people with real feelings and emotions and why should we continue to expect them to keep them buried deep, deep down, never to see the light of day. It is a dangerous thing, we do to our sons. And I think it about time that we collectively stop it.

So, you may have a big, macho hunk of a son that speaks in grunts and mono-syllabus, but scratch that surface and you will find a soft little underbelly, waiting for a hug.