This guest post by P and entry in our non-fiction writing contest.
We had a child.
A little boy. A few months ago.
It changed things. While I have always been one of the ‘self-sufficient’ types, I never necessarily ascribed to the idea of being a prepper. Not exactly. My life was spent in the woods – growing up hunting and fishing with the old man. I served a short stint in the military, where I admit I spent more time in trouble than not, and the entire time yearning, always, to get away. After that, I went to the rigs, and there spent more years in the bush, working as a roughneck in the North. That was a rough crowd- mostly Natives and Newfies who, for their part (and I suppose like any other group of people) have their really good ones, and their really bad ones. I learned a bit of Cree (my grandma was Ojibwa, though I don’t remember her), and learned to almost understand a drunk Newfie.
I logged in the winters, when the rigs shut down.
Planted trees, Canadian-style in the summers.
Spent months and months in tents and bush camps, and I did this for years. When I wasn’t in the bush, I surfed couches and stayed in hostels, and I slept in sleeping bags along remote highways, and woke up under six inches of snow, often enough, and never didn’t have my rifle in my truck.
Yes, even in Canada, if you live in the right places, you can take your rifle with you.
I met a girl. I got married. Things began to change. We started looking at houses that we might want. We started looking at furniture. We rented a nice place in a City, and she had a good job as a scientist while I did what I could to make a living. I worked in a factory- building a precast concrete form day in, day out.
You don’t know how ill-fitted you are, a guy who works in the bush, to live in a City until you try.
Talked about mortgages and debt management, and the cost of real estate, and I wondered if I should go to school. Get a degree. Computers. Finance. Something useful.
Sometimes, I would want to peel back the skin on my face. I wanted to rip out my own teeth. I was a ball of rage, and I could believe how trapped and crazy the City made me. I would get drunk, I would get in trouble, I wanted out.
We had a boy.
I looked around at other boys, in the City. I looked at the generation that is being raised- heads immersed in Phones and iPods. In our neighbourhood, I’d never seen, not once, a child on a bicycle. There were children around, you’d see them in and out of the mini-van, but never once did I see them actually doing something outside. What happens to a boy that never learns to fire a rifle? Never learns to string a bow or build a fire? Who cannot use a compass, or tie a knot, or who walks through the bush and doesn’t know oak from ash from maple?
What kind of a father raises such a milquetoast? What father raises a pansy narcissist capable of murdering in Call of Duty 2, but incapable of bearing the heft of a rifle and a pack. A boy who shops jeans and hairstyles, but cannot swing an axe, nor is even interested in doing so?
So, we left the City.
We left, and are living now, with family, in as close to the bush as I’ve been in two years. We’re raising our boy to survive. Our children ( because we’ll have more than one, for certain) will learn to plant a garden, to shoot, to fight, to work hard and endure. I’m logging again, in these parts, and it pays the bills. It’s selective logging- managing small woodlots sustainably. Hand-felling. Milling. Firewood.
My wife wants to stay home, and raise strong children, and that far outweighs, in importance to God and Country, any business card and salary her career might have given her. We want to be good parents, and to give our children the strength of character to survive any calamity that might occur.
He will learn to work hard. I worked for my old man from when I was eight years old- and it was construction work. Hard work. There was no labour job I couldn’t do. My boy will learn the same. He will learn to plant trees, climb trees, and fall trees- and if he wants to do what Dad does, and things haven’t collapsed, there will be a place for him, and a well-run business for him, someday, to takeover.
He will learn to respect people, but they will be, like their old man, fundamentally anti-authoritarian. They will learn to question everything. They will read some of the greats- Thoreau, Emerson, Muir. Distrust government- it is the refuge of weak people seeking power.
My boy will learn to live outside. He will learn to endure rain and cold and heat. He will know to drink enough water, to pack the right gear. He will be physically fit, and be capable of walking and running for long distances, because that’s what we do when we hunt. He will know that what truly separates a good ‘camper’ from a ‘hopeless city-guy’ is experience and work ethic. Mental strength.
He will learn to fight. He will learn to stand up for himself. Parents who deny training their children in boxing or a martial arts are cruel. They are cruel because they have denied their child the capability of self-defense, and the schoolyard is far more feral, far more Darwinian than what most adults are used to.
Bullying, on the other hand, will NOT be tolerated.
The boy will learn the bush. He will learn what I can teach him about plants and trees and lichens and mosses and ecology. The natural world is the most important- the most absolutely important thing in THIS world. We, as humans, are a threat to it, and like a bloated, consuming and insatiable monster. He will not be like that. He will know his place in this world, and seek to pass through it with minimum impact.
He will learn to garden. Eventually, the garden will become a farm.
He will learn the importance of community, and of knowing good people. The farm will help pay bills, someday, but in lean times, it will be the source of our charity.
The boy will learn that, to become a man, and husband, and a father, the most important role is the survival and protection of your family. But, I don’t want this survival to be in some remote bastion, somewhere, removed from humanity. My experience is that humanity is both good and bad, and you seek out the good. You become the good. So, I hope the boy learns the virtues I strive, each day, to attain. Integrity. Honesty. Work ethic. Family. Community leadership. Environmental stewardship.
This is how I strive to raise my boy, and my children. This is how, I hope at least, to make survivors out of them, to give them the skills and traits of character to endure, when many other’s will fail.
This contest will end on April 22 2013 – prizes include:
- First Place winner will receive - A $500 dollar gift certificate courtesy of LPC Survival that is good for $500 off anything on their site. And a Wonder Junior Deluxe hand-mill courtesy of Kitchen Kneads,
- Second Place winner will receive – Two cases of MRE’s courtesy of Camping Survival and a $150 gift certificate off of Hornady Ammo from LuckyGunner.
- Third Place winner will receive - a one year subscription to Personal VPN service courtesy of unspyable.