If my son is successful at this, it will be in spite of me, not because of me.
I’m perversely proud of this. He earned this.
BoyWonder became a Cub Scout because they held a round up at school. He was in first grade, and they had popcorn. Where does he sign up? They gave him a neckerchief (because tying things around a little boy’s neck is always a good idea).
They went camping with parents (and tag along little sisters). GirlWonder was probably 10 before she realized she wasn’t a Cub Scout). They met in a church basement once a week, and I didn’t think much about it unless they needed cookies or a covered dish. He and his father made pinewood derby cars and raingutter regatta boats (blow blow blow your boat). They won some. They lost some. He went to districts one year. I think.
His father took vacation time to make sure he could be at scout camp during his Cub Scout years. No way, no how, was I sending my baby to sleep in the woods without a parent present. I felt that parent should be Mr. Wonderful.
Boywonder grew older and taller and crossed over to Boy Scouts. Now the camp was a week long sleep away. His father no longer had to go. That was part of growing up. Sending him away to live like a homeless hobo was always hard on a mother — but bittersweet, too. Each year we sent away a boy and a week later got back a slightly older, stronger and wiser boy. It was uncanny how that happened.
To be honest, I really was not a good Scout parent. I didn’t sew patches on his sash or micromanage his advancement in rank. I trusted him to handle that. He did.
Today, I am writing this in on my mobile phone while my son is undergoing his Board of Review. I am sitting at a picnic table in sight of the swimming pool where they employed “The Buddy System” and did cannonballs into icy blue water. I am sitting by the lake where they held endless fishing derbies (and where his little sister cleaned up one year. We still use the camp chair she won for “biggest fish”).
Here I once chased down a sweaty little boy to smooth his hair and reapply sunscreen. The days of my packing him off to camp are behind us. I remember tightening his kerchiefs over the years. Kissing the top of his head. Watching him pile into the van for camp. Watching him tumble back out. I now sit at a picnic table while the young man who drove himself here handles his business alone in another room. He had sewn on his own patches, gotten his own fresh haircut and even ironed his own uniform.
As of 2015, only 6 percent of all Boy Scouts become Eagle Scouts. Since the inception of the Eagle Scout award in 1912, 2.01 percent of eligible Scouts have earned Scouting’s highest honor.
The award is difficult to earn and still incredibly rare. Progress through the ranks, earn 21 specific merit badges, serve six months in a troop leadership position, plan, develop and oversee a service project for any religious organization, school or community group, take part in a Scoutmaster conference, and successfully complete an Eagle Scout board of review. I only know this because I checked the Boy Scout of America website.
This is when his culmination of hard work, dedication, project management and fundraising will come together — or not.
A group of people will meet to decide if 12 years of hard work is going to pay off — or not. I know the hard work, dedication and sheer will it took to dedicate yourself to something at or around age 8 — and stick with it for the next 10 years. He learned to take direction — and give it. He learned to be responsible and be prepared.
He learned first aid, survival skills and how to get along as a team member, assessing strengths and weakness — his own and others. As I write this, I don’t know if he’s going to pass or not. I am proud of him regardless. The door opens, and my son walks out. It is done. He really did it.
BoyWonder is a newly minted Eagle Scout. An achievement he can feature on his resume and his heart — and his mother’s as well. I am so proud I could burst. Over a decade ago, I sent a little boy off to the aptly named “Boy Scouts.” I would like to thank the leader, troop mates and friends who volunteered their time and talent to turn that Boy Scout into a fine young man.
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