If I have learned anything from my years as a Scout Parent — first with Cub Scouts (cute) and then Boy Scouts (cute, but gangly and sometimes smell funny) — it is that all the wrong people are earning badges around here.
If you are a scout parent you soon learn that the boys earn badges for everything from “shoelace tying” to “ability to reattach a severed limb in the field using only a pocketknife and a piece of string.”
I think there may even be “singing the McDonald’s Filet O’ Fish jingle 10,000 times in rapid succession all the way to Washington DC and back” badge.
But where, pray tell, is the badge for the adult leaders who had to listen to that? While driving?
Obviously, you can raise a happy, well-adjusted human being to adulthood and that counts for something, but it seems like just about the time the kids are really polished to perfection and “company ready” to show your talents to their best advantage, the little ingrates up and leave you for college or marriage or something.
Granted, parenting is competitive enough as it is, but really, how do we know when we’re winning?
What we need, as parents, is a sash of some sort that we can wear even when our kids aren’t with us that will announce the world at large that we have earned our stripes.
Think of this as one of those “my child was an Honor Student at Overbearing High School” bumper stickers — but for your body.
For starters we would have the “I caught vomit in my bare hands so it wouldn’t stain the carpet/upholstery/lap of the lady sitting next to us” badge.
It would be very colorful, naturally.
The “my child was a preschool biter” badge is the exact same color as blushing in shame.
One limited but highly coveted badge is the “I took a baby on an airplane and wasn’t bodily thrown into the cargo hold by other passengers” merit badge. If your child reached Frequent Flyer status before his or her third birthday, you go directly to Eagle Scout.
Then there’s the “my child was ostracized by a social clique in middle school and I didn’t do bodily harm to any little mean girls although I really wanted to” badge. That one is a repeat eligibility badge. You earn it over and over as the school years progress.
Ditto the “we spent time, dreams, and money on prom preparation only to have him/her dump my child three days before the big date” badge. This badge depicts the little pickax and shovel you were tempted to use to hide the transgressor’s body — but didn’t.
There is an “I made my child struggle through advanced trigonometry even though I secretly agree that we are never going to need that someday badge.”
That one depicts a tiny woven calculator — and a tear.
One that is difficult to earn but proudly worn is the “I supported but did not live vicariously through my child’s extracurricular activities” badge.
That one is a lot tougher to earn than you might think. If you have ever had a verbal throw-down with a youth sport referee, you are automatically disqualified from this advancement.
Of course, being a slacker mom I know that my badges, should they come to light, would be difficult to really show off.
Receiving his own merit badges, my son does what any self-respecting twelve-year-old boy would; he tosses them at me and says “sew this on mom?”
To which I can only respond, “No. No I won’t.”
Mommy doesn’t have her sewing badge.
Sadly, there is something about earning the “mommy doesn’t care enough to drive a needle through her thumb while sewing on your badges” badge that makes all the other badges look kind of skimpy.
Kymberly Foster Seabolt thanks Cara who inspired this column. She welcomes comments c/o LifeOutLoud@comcast.net; P.O. Box 38, Salem, Ohio 44460; or her blog www.kymberlyfosterseabolt.com.