In behavioral science, system theory and dynamic system modeling, a behavioral model reproduces the required behavior of the original analyzed system, such as there is a one-to-one correspondence between the behavior of the original system and the simulated system. That namely implies that the model uniquely predicts future system states from past systems states. – wikipedia

I have always known that it is important to have a variety of ages of men around my son to act as models. Models are the way we see things in action. I had a lovely tenant once who filled that slot nicely. I have a friend now who does too. He gives him models that I cannot – boy play, boy solutions. Modeling behavior is one of the best ways for children to learn; either good models or bad ones.

If the model for ‘mommy’, for instance, cried a lot, you would not be shocked when women cried. If the ‘daddy’ model comforts the ‘mommy’ model with a hug or a kiss, you are mostly likely to follow suit, even at a young age. But if the “mommy’ model was told to hide her tears or was sent away when she cried you might perceive that she had done something bad, was behaving badly or that crying was simply to be dealt with by going away. And children will take these models on themselves and try them on like outfits. Some people are given very little to wear socially. If you wear that emotional outfit long enough, it becomes part of your psychological identity.

Finding a new model as an adult is hard because you also have a pair of glasses, that were given to you by your parent-models, through which you view the world. And all future models are viewed through these. What people most often think, when they have bad or difficult experiences, is that they will do the opposite of their parents or avoid what their parent did. Just because something is the ‘opposite’ of the model you were given doesn’t make it any more useful or better. It’s something like thinking that rather than wear what your parents gave you, you will go naked, or you will wear pants instead of a dress. It’s an idea that limits your options.

When we are young we create our own judgments about our models if nothing is explained to us – which is usually the case with parents and kids. Our thinking at 8 years old (I see it happen every day) might so something like this. ‘When I behave badly parent-models frown. When mommy-model cries, daddy-model frowns. When mommy-model cries she leaves. When I got sent away/parents divorced I cried, parent-models frowned, parent models left.” Now, the girlfriend cries. Bad news. Particularly if the girlfriend model is meant to be the opposite of the mommy-model because you have determined that you don’t want to do things the way your parent did. It gets complicated quickly, doesn’t it?

JJ was adamant that there were things that my parents should have protected me from, but I was adamant that I was an adult and could take some…yes….self-responsibility. Often enough, I can. But I understand what he meant and he is right, there are some things my parents should have protected me from – themselves. The one advantage I have over him, and B and a few other people I know, is that I have two models. I know that it is not just about doing the opposite thing. I know it is not about ruling people out because they share a few similar qualities that I don’t like. I know it is about  creating things together yourself. Unfortunately for everyone, it’s much easier in theory than in practice when it comes to adults.

The thing is neither of our parents would have ever been able to prepare us for each other. Nor for our jobs, our friends, our education, our own children, or our challenges in life. Those things belong to us.

All we can hope to do is give each other a variety of models and an ability to assess their applicability. Circumstance chose what models we are exposed to in life and no one can predict your future circumstances to give you models you might need. Friends, you cannot show your children how to live a life you have not lived, you cannot prepare your children for the future. Just as you cannot prepare yourself for a relationship. What you need to prepare for is the unknown, the unforeseen, the unexpected, the unanticipated and the unimaginable…for Serendipity.

I often think that I did an injustice to JJ by not begin a better model myself. I think I did an injustice to him by not allowing him to have my son as a model for boyhood and let him look at childhood again through other lenses. I think I did my son an injustice because JJ’s model could be important and valuable to him. I hope that I will find more people to be in our lives who can provide alternative models, so that when he meets others he will have more than one to draw from. I think I did myself and injustice by not examining more closely the value of the models that were presented to me.

We think of being a model for someone else as such a burden, such a responsibility. Really, I think we burden ourselves and other around us when we run away from or ignore the opportunity.  Tonight I will be taking the time out to be a supermodel for enjoying your life and sharing what you love to do with someone else. That doesn’t sound so hard now, does it? Mommy-model will spend time teaching son-model how to cook instead of just making dinner for him.

Mini-Pizzas (bonding tools for parents and children, friends or lovers)

2 English Muffins, whole wheat (halved to make 4 pieces)
2-4 Tbsp sauce (try BBQ, pesto, red-sauce, alfredo)
Mozzarella, or your choice of cheese
Choice of meats – chicken, sausage, pepperoni,
Choice of veggies – cherry tomatoes, onions, olives, sun-dried tomatoes, spinach, mushrooms
a pinch of red pepper flakes
4 tsp extra virgin olive oil
Choice of herbs – basil, oregano, cilantro

To Make:

1. Turn your oven to broil (this can also be done in a toaster oven).
2. Slice your muffins in half. Lay on a baking sheet.
3. Add the sauce in a thin even layer to each muffin – open faced.
4. Add a pinch of cheese to each muffin. You can add some fresh basil hidden beneath the cheese layer if you’d like.
5. Add the veggies and/or cooked meat.
6. Pinch of red pepper flakes and more cheese on top.
7. Place on the top rack of the oven for about 5 minutes – or until the cheese begins to bubble and brown.
8. Cool a few minutes before serving to allow cheese to set.

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