AJ Young on left Mary Jane Hiller Young on Right, photo by Jeff Young
Being Godfather to a teen boy in the California Gold Country, has unleashed my inner Huck.
It’s the sort of task to which Samuel Clemens opening line “Put your back into it, Jim” was written just for me.
The nice thing about being a Godfather is the chance to form an enduring bond with a young person and treat them as either as your youthful doppelganger or as an aloof adult.
My inner Huck looks at Godfathering as a chance to deplete my stash of whitewash, have fun and pass on to a young man my absolute belief there are rivers to be fished, eggs to be collected from peckish hens, and tin cans to be wantonly ventilated.
There’s a more serious side to my Godfatherly views. I believe in scholarship and encourage curiosity. I also think Godfathers can play an important role as spiritual advisors to boys trudging their way into manhood.
For example; my God son, AJ is about to enter high school and over lunch at a “wing bar” I made an important discovery-- having spent eight years in a Montessori school, he
Had not yet learned an important lesson-- how to protect his stones.
So, I decided it was time for some male bonding retail therapy-- taking the boy to buy his first athletic supporter. As a Godfather, I believe “man camp” lessons are important. I also think humor is a critical teaching skill.
So.. I told AJ to wear his new clothing on his head before he walked into his home.
And he did it!
I also made sure my godson knows that “jocking up” before strenuous activities-- football practice, heavy stone lifting, dinosaur slaying and the like are example of when “jocking up“ is a very good idea.
I treasure my time with my Godson, and I prepare for trips to Rescue by thinking of a menu of items I want to do with him. My list for a forthcoming trip includes teaching AJ how to cook for his family, how to rebuild carburetors on two- and four-stroke motors, and where to find Gold on the South Fork of the American River near Rescue.
And if I drive up I’m going to bring along my treasured and highly customized Ruger 10/.22 plinker and perhaps a Colt 19111 A1 for some serious tin can ventilation. And of course, Huck being Huck, I’ll bring my trusty spinning and fly rods and show AJ how to hold his “mouth right” to insure a successful fishing trip to Fuller Lake, near Grass Valley.
The thing I enjoy the most about being AJ Young’s Godfather is watching his personality emerge. And I take the tasks associated responsibility very seriously.
I’ve already had a frank discussion with him about the basics facts of life and-- while letting him drive my Kia Hamster Mobile on the private road where he lives-- I made sure he understood that if any drugstore pharmacist or sales clerk ever made him feel uncomfortable about buying condoms, He was to immediately call me, no matter what time it was.
Ultimately Huck as Godfather has to release the raft’s tiller/sweep oar to his Godson and let him pick his own course through the rocks and shoals of life. I hope he remembers me as a friend. But to be honest, I’ve had a lo of satisfaction being around AJ.
My takeaway from the experience: Godfathers should let boys be boys, and help them to understand that some of life’s most important lessons, come along with a funny old dude’s wry smile.-- Jim “Huck” Forbes on 07/15/2011.