There is nothing like raising a child. Nothing. Ok, maybe being a lion tamer. Yeah, that is pretty comparable to the idea of child-rearing.
No seriously, there is nothing that compares.
As a parent, if you’re a decent human being, you want nothing but the best for your children. You want them to succeed and lead very normal and content lives. Sometimes, there are some things you cannot protect them from. Sometimes, you just have to deal with the idea that they have to do things without you even when you do not support their choice, but put on that smile anyway so they know you have their back just in case it doesn’t work out.
The signs were strategically placed in plain sight at the exit of the school. “Join Boy Scouts. Meeting at 6:30PM 9/18.” Julian clearly yelled, “Mom, I wanna join Boy Scouts.” So we went to the meeting to learn about registration and the site where the scouts meet. This Monday, we went to our first scout meeting. He is too old to be in Cub Scouts (age 10 or 4th grade) so he will be making the transition into Boy Scouts over the next few months learning, camping and building relationships with other boys his age.
Monday was more of an informal day, and as I was going to pay the registration fee, I was told to come back Tuesday evening during the actual Boy Scouts meeting so that I may speak to the treasurer and get a booklet. They have this whole manual on how to be an awesome Boy Scout. So you betcha I was going to come back to get that manual of Boy Scout awesomeness for my son!
Tuesday came. Therapy was first up on the to-do-list. Then a quiet one-on-one dinner date with him at Chili’s to get him fed and spend some quality time with him. Who better than to take my son out than me, right? So, dinner date was awesome. He talked about science and the properties of matter and told me he really liked spending time with me. Once we split this awesome skillet cookie with ice cream and chocolate sauce drizzled over it, warm and crispy, it was time to seek his awesomeness manual.
In the darkness of the church parking lot we park the car. He asks, “I don’t see anyone. Did they forget we were coming?” I shrug and we go off into the mosquito infested wilderness of high grass and oak trees. I try to open the door to the Scout Hut and much to my disappointment the door was shut.
Julian wanders off into the darkness that has enveloped us as the dusk turns to night, and an eerie smell of burning and smoke wafts our way in the humid breeze. All the scouts are divvied into groups building campfires. Julian is intrigued and excited and watches in awe as he sees one boy blowing the embers of a fire that is almost out and revived it into a healthy flame worthy of weenie-on-a-stick cooking.
“Mom they’re making fires! Can I go help them?” His eyes were wide with amazement and I nodded as he ran off to go burn stuff with other boys.
I was able to find the treasurer and speak to the Scout Master or whatever it is he is called (cut me a break, I’m new to this, too!) and we had a few men in the office talking to me about fees, books, uniforms, and camping trips. All I hear in my mind is the ca-ching sound that old registers used to make when someone was accepting your money. But as much as it sounds like there is going to be a huge dent in my wallet from all this, I know Julian will benefit from the outdoors, bonding with other boys and learning all the cool stuff about being self-sufficient.
The boys had all entered the Scout Hut and as I walk out from the office, I see Julian in his bright orange tee and curly Brillo-pad hair and he is leaning forward, eyes affixed towards the boys speaking at the podium. I watch as he is paying close attention to budget cuts by the city council and the boys pleas to try to save karate for youth in the inner-city so that they may stay off the streets. I motion to Julian about leaving and he shakes his head.
I sit. I sit and watch as my son focuses on something other than video games. Focused on something bigger than homework and fighting with his sisters. He is listening to how the city council wants to take away karate, make budget cuts on Meals on Wheels for the seniors, and an ordinance to allow the keeping of hens in backyards.
They go on to talk about camping trips and scuba diving. Den leaders and Scouts Honors. He is smiling, and he wants so much to be a part of it… and he sits.
The Scout Master stands up and addresses the entire troop.
“Hey guys, have you all met our newest scout?” He looks in Julian’s direction. Julian glances at me and with wide eyes mouths, “Me?” I nod.
“Stand up.” He stands up straight and tall.
“Tell us your name.” “Julian!” he says loudly and proudly.
“Everyone welcome our newest Boy Scout, Julian.”
Cheers and claps follow along with some “Welcome to Scouts.” And a few whistles.
Julian clasps his hands over his mouth to hide the huge smile he has on his face and he is waving and giggling as he sits back down. Recalling this moment brings tears to my eyes, because the look on his face was that of genuine happiness. The kind that only comes when you finally feel like you are part of something bigger. Something you want. Just feeling like you belong. The look in his eyes, the glassiness that quickly came over his eyes, made me smile because he finally felt good about his choices.
So, as they concluded their meeting, he stood up with the rest of the troop, held up his 3 fingers in old scout fashion and smiled as the troop recited their Scout Prayer and Law. He will learn it as he goes.
We never did get his manual on how to be the most awesome Boy Scout, but he got something bigger than that. He gained a family of boys who would help him, work with him, and be there with him to go through the trials and tribulations of Scout-hood.
He hugged me and then cried once we got to the car. On the drive home all he could say was he was so happy and cry as he said it.
“This was the best day ever. You’re the best, Mom.” he sniffled as we drove off into the night. “I finally did it. I’m a scout.”
And as the tears rolled down his cheeks, and he clasped his hands over his mouth to hide the joyous grin that is so unfamiliar to him, the tears welled up in my eyes and I smiled.
There is nothing more rewarding than having a happy child. The fact that he is happy with his choice and feels good about himself from it, I know I did the right thing by supporting him in it and allowing him this joy.
I know one day he will do things to make me angry because it is all in the name of being a happy Julian. So I’ll hang onto this feeling and pray that the future choices he makes will give his as much joy as joining Boy Scouts did on that night.