Kennedy's 'Postcards from
Jonal entry 998 | Wednesday, June 28 2006
One of my favorite contemporary political and intellectual figures, Bill Bennett, wrote a few years ago that one of the best things you can do with teenage boys is keep them busy with sports and hard exercise, because that mixture of providing them too little time and little left-over energy leaves them disinclined to "get into trouble." It was a new concept to me, never having been into sports or, for that matter, getting into the kind of trouble I usually associate with teenage boys, vandalism and other forms of delinquincy. Of course I don't mean most teen boys are delinquents (I've been arguing against that stereotype since my own teens as conductor of the Teen Events column), but when you put both words "teens" and "trouble" together, delinquency appears to be an apt synonym.
But a more general kind of "trouble" that teen boys get into (as do their dads and not a few of their moms and sisters) but usually get away with unnoticed by law enforcement, is personal sins like experimentation with drugs (including alcohol and tobacco), sex, and fleshly excitement. These, too, can be curtailed by keeping them busy with more edifying occupations. Maybe this is no more than a new way of expressing the old proverb, "idle hands are the devil's workshop," the verso of which is "busy bodies have less time to get into tempting situations."
I was reminded of this recently because it's been several years since I've been to the beach, but when I feel I'm missing something, it occurs to me that it may be for the best. (Though I had a picture of a beach in my gallery from my trip to Southern California last month, the elevated pier from which I took the picture was as close as I got to an actual beach on that trip.)
Going to the beach is akin to that old occupation of teen boys and young men of the '50's memorialized in a song that became a top hit for the Four Lads, "Standing on the Corner Watching All the Girls Go By." Standing on the corner is a bit tamer than oggling the bikins on the beach, which is still tamer than drinking the minimum while watching the bikini-clad girls swinging from poles in a venue far less brightly lit than the beach. But there's a continuum. See what I'm getting at? Trouble with a capital T. I've been too busy for the past several years to even get to the beach once in a season, and I'm better off for it.
I think sports and hobbies, fishing and hunting trips with Dad or the guys, are good diversions for teenage boys and young men. My daily two-hour workouts after work and my "hobbies" here at the Postcards and my Xnmp ministry keep me too busy for even the routine television viewing I did most of my life. Yes...staying busy keeps me out of trouble. It's one of the strategies anyone wanting to "take the kingdom of heaven by force" (Matthew 11:12) will want to make use of.