Wednesday, July 04, 2012

Then You'll Be A Man, My Son

Yesterday, Alexander and I went to the Hamilton Public Library to register him for the summer reading program,called the TD Summer Reading Club.

To enter the program, a child needs their own library card.

In my mind, this is a significant moment in a child's life; one of the most important memberships a person can ever own.

A library card opens up an endless world of possibilities.

I think about all of the magic, all of the wonders, all of the learning, all of the entertainment, all of the hours of escape and delight that my own library cards have given me.  To be able to introduce my son to all those things is priceless.

Alexander did a great job.  When the librarian was asking questions in order to fill out his registration, he did all the talking, answered all her questions by himself.

I explained to him (in my ode to the mantra that Peter Parker/Spider-Man lives by) that with great power (his library card), comes great responsibility (making sure he returns all borrowed material).

In many ways, to this book nerd, getting a library card is one of the defining moments that turns a child into an adult, a boy into a man.  I know he's still just seven, but the learning of becoming a man -- an adult, begins early.

For some reason, I kept thinking about the wonderful poem "If---" by Rudyard Kipling, which I thought I'd share here as part of that sentiment. After all, learning the classics is all part of the wonder having a library card will endow him with.


If you can keep your head when all about you
Are losing theirs and blaming it on you;
If you can trust yourself when all men doubt you,
But make allowance for their doubting too:
If you can wait and not be tired by waiting,
Or being lied about, don’t deal in lies,
Or being hated don’t give way to hating,
And yet don’t look too good, nor talk too wise;

If you can dream—and not make dreams your master;
If you can think—and not make thoughts your aim,
If you can meet with Triumph and Disaster
And treat those two impostors just the same:
If you can bear to hear the truth you’ve spoken
Twisted by knaves to make a trap for fools,
Or watch the things you gave your life to, broken,
And stoop and build ’em up with worn-out tools;

If you can make one heap of all your winnings
And risk it on one turn of pitch-and-toss,
And lose, and start again at your beginnings
And never breathe a word about your loss:
If you can force your heart and nerve and sinew
To serve your turn long after they are gone,
And so hold on when there is nothing in you
Except the Will which says to them: ‘Hold on!’

If you can talk with crowds and keep your virtue,
Or walk with Kings—nor lose the common touch,
If neither foes nor loving friends can hurt you,
If all men count with you, but none too much:
If you can fill the unforgiving minute
With sixty seconds’ worth of distance run,
Yours is the Earth and everything that’s in it,
And—which is more—you’ll be a Man, my son!

                    - Rudyard Kipling (1895)

Here's a great link to a typographic animation of the Kipling poem by George Horne (read by Des Lynam - music by Fauré)

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