When I was little I was one of the cockiest boys I knew. I walked around with a swagger so big that you could see it from outer space.
Other boys could smell it.
I said what I wanted, whenever I wanted. If there was a risk worth taking, I took it. If you ticked me off, believe me I showed it.
I spent many of my school hours standing outside in the hallway. The reason? The teachers wanted me to sit and be quiet, while I wanted to learn by doing.
I did not know how to sweet talk a girl, but I thought my confidence was enough to drive them mad.
I wasn’t overly concerned with the nitty-gritty.
I just knew the most important thing wasn’t the specifics of anything, but the attitude for everything.
I lived by what I now call the Boys Code.
My father probably had a bit to do with that.
He used to tell me how he romanced my mother, how he’d invite her on an unsuspecting evening to bike trips across the deserted country side, all on a righteous whim.
He used tell me about how he was the best football and basketball player to have ever graced his university and departmental teams. He never saw himself as inferior to any other player, even the ones much taller and stronger than him. He would tell me, and show me photos of his past glory.
Being a sportsman, he tried to teach me football when I was four. That didn’t go over so well, because I was four.
His second attempt to get me hooked on sports worked. One day he put an NBA game on television, and waited for me to come strolling in. This was based on the knowing that I was a computer bound kid who enjoyed staring at anything on a screen.
It was the 2002 NBA All-star game.
Somewhere between watching MJ’s mesmerizing moves and Mariah Carey’s gorgeous figure in a tight Wizards dress, the appeal of basketball came to me. I was hooked right away.
All day I dreamt about being in the NBA.
It didn’t matter that I was a skinny Chinese boy of average stature parents. I once told my sixth grade teacher that I was going to be an NBA star someday, and he told me I had a better chance of being a brain surgeon than a pro basketball player.
I laughed in his face and challenged him to a one-on-one game.
Which I lost, but I had the adoring gaze of one of my female classmates, so I didn’t feel so bad.
My gang of boys was another source of my swagger.
My boys and I roamed our neighborhood afraid of no one. I didn’t get into many fights, but I never shied away from retaliation either. A few times I got a knocking from the older kids on the block for flinging back insults. How much effect did it have on my confidence?
How many points have I scored in the NBA?
The point of me telling you all of this is not to train your kids to be a loose-cannons and cowboys (Okay maybe a little).
The point is as simple as the old saying goes:
Let boys be boys.
And I will add:
So that they can become men.
Let boys take risks in their youth. This way they become willing to bare their heart and mind as men. Also, let your inner boy take risks today so that he may dare reach for success tomorrow. As a caveat you as the parent need to know which risks are okay and which aren’t. Drugs or anything involving deadly violence are NOT okay.
Let your son be bold and confident in saying what he means, but teach him to say exactly what he means. Daughters, too. No wishy-washy. And remember, true correctness trumps political correctness.
Let your children be children of high aspirations. Strive for more, and never settle for less. Create, and create often.
There are no good and bad cultures. But you can be sure there are good and bad values. Let your offspring see a person of principle. The only way to achieve that is to actually be a person of principle. That is:
No acts, embellishments or perfection. Just hard work, sweat, and dedication.
Dream big, and work every day towards those dreams.
“Don’t let anyone tell you that you can’t”– Will Smith in The Pursuit of Happiness
Because no matter where you end up, the journey will have made you a stronger person.
Look, I may not be in the NBA. But you can be 100% sure that my spirit animal is the black mamba.
And if you are reading this and thinking, “All these things apply to girls and women too.”
Yes and no.
Yes if you are willing to actually do these things. No if you just want to declare that these things apply. Talk is cheap, action is money.
If you are willing to constantly take risks and put in hours after hours of hard work focused on a SINGLE pursuit, I don’t care if you are a man or woman. You deserve success.
I call this article the Boy’s Code because these are my experiences, and I have never identified as a girl.
That’s all folks.
Happy holidays. Eat and be merry.
And when the New Year comes.
Until next time.