In the past, I’ve expressed complicated feelings regarding Scouts. Last year, with our advent into the program, I was focusing on how it all made me feel… and I was wrong. The truth is, I can have all the ambivalent feelings in the world about Scouts, but it’s not about me- and that’s what I was missing. When I step back and watch my son, really watch him, I see the joy on his face as he holds up the little metallic blue car he worked on all last week with our amazing Home Teacher. That joy is what matters.
The truth is, I cannot provide what he gets from Scouts. I can’t carve a car from balsa wood, drill lead slugs into it, and provide him with a respirator and a spray booth so he can learn to paint properly. But there is a man who can. I don’t want to teach him to throw river rocks into the fire and watch them pop while telling ghost stories and wiping s’mores-covered hands on his camp-filthy shirt. But there are men who will. I cannot be there to help him when the ghost-stories the older boys told cause him to jump at every sound. But he learns something of tremendous value from the men who are. Because of the men who are willing to love my sons, and take up the slack left by another, my boys are learning things I cannot teach them. They are learning what being a good man looks like, and I am choosing to be grateful there are many men willing to fill that role. These boys need it.
So tonight, we joined a bunch of other families in our church building, and commenced the time-honored ritual of hurling 5 oz. bricks of pine and graphite down the sloping, gravity-fed track in our hall. Brackets were drawn on blackboards, boys lined up and were weighed, siblings pulled on flags and ate popcorn, and the cars raced down the hill.
At the end of the night, several boys stood tall, and even the boys whose cars crashed and burned seemed to have a good attitude and everyone was cheerful and happy and the hall was full of people laughing as we folded up chairs and broke down the track until next time. Bean got to run the giant church vacuum (made his night) and Abby ran in circles. Our Home Teacher was there with Jeffrey the whole night, and even performed pit-duties after Bean accidently dropped the car.
Jeffrey came in second place, and has been advanced to regionals on Saturday. It wasn’t until I saw the look on his face and watched him literally jump for joy that I understood what this meant to him. He ran to me and hugged me tightly, twirled in a delighted circle, and ran off- eyes sparkling, cheeks bright pink, and full of pride. And with that, mama steps back and learns to love yet another child in the way he needs.