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Wednesday, March 21, 2007

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Half mom, half wolf

This is me in my cub scout den leader uniform. Sort of.

I only realized the day before yesterday, by glancing over the agenda for the cub scout pack meeting, that I was scheduled to be "inducted" as a den leader. I was caught off guard, as I have been thinking of myself as more of an understudy than a den mom. There is one other wolf cub in our den besides my son. No, don't feel bad. For the other kid, this represents a hundred per cent increase in recruitment over last year's tiger cub den.

The other kids' parents and I had a loose agreement that we would share the mantle of leadership. To my relief, they sort of took off running: they got a bunch of planning guides and attired themselves with proper leader uniforms and insignia. They were content to run the show until tax season hit, as they are both accountants, at which time I would take over. So far I have run exactly one meeting, and there are only a couple left in the year.

I did go to the scout shop and look at adult uniforms, but they cost a fortune. Who has forty bucks for a blouse?

Okay, also? They are a little on the frumpy side. Who has forty bucks for a frumpy blouse? It didn't seem necessary, for the sake of two kids and a couple of meetings. As far as I knew, there were no surprise uniform inspections by Boy Scouts of America.

But then I had to go and check the agenda, and saw that it was going to be all official-like at the pack meeting, when all the council dens come together. So yesterday afternoon, I ran down to the scout shop and looked at the gear again. Forty bucks for the blouse, more for the skorts.


No fucking way.

I went to the neighborhood thrift store and found clothes in a conforming color scheme: a tan button shirt and an army green sateen skirt (Banana Republic! 7 bucks!). I was thinking maybe I could sew the insignia on the shirt, but upon further investigation, my shirt lacked shoulder epaulets to which to attach the ribbon loops that signify something, as well as the embroidered "Boy Scouts of America" over the breast pocket. Also, the wrong color buttons. And it wasn't really the right shade of tan. But it was three o'clock in the afternoon and it was going to have to do.

I feel about the neck kerchief about the same way I feel about skorts. Which is to say, they are both perfectly appropriate for persons of grade school age. So I splurged a little on the metal bolero tie, figuring my son could wear it with future scouting ensembles. Because someone from BSA is bound to find this and read it and I won't be allowed to wear it ever again.

Once I got home and got dressed, I felt I could "pass", even without ribbons and badges.

"You look like the ranger girl in Open Season," Patrick said, as he snapped our picture.

"I think that's what we're going for," I said.

The ceremony came late in the program, after my guys led us in the Pledge of Allegiance (well, led them—I always stand there dumbly with my hands at my side, hoping my smile conveys, peace loving foreigner, don't kill me.) and delivered an outstanding address on the various types of clouds. Then there was a group activity in which the kids had to try to pop balloons tied to each other's ankles. We were in a gymnasium with lots of room to run and it was taking forever for anyone to stomp on a balloon.

"Didn't you have a pinata game like this one year?," I whispered to RedChuck. I thought I remembered him grimly taking up the baseball bat at his son's birthday party, saying, "look away, kids".

The boys had to be forced into smaller and smaller sparring rings, so they couldn't get away from each other. It was gladiator-like. "Hold hands and try to do it," the tiger den mother suggested in desperation as the last scouts kicked at each other within their 2' by 2' box. Eventually, someone was injured and there emerged a victor.

Then it was time for the induction. As I feared, I was called to stand. The leader of the pack made a poignant—and I thought, pointed— speech about the importance of badges and emblems. I was asked to make the scout sign and vow to "obey the law of the pack."

Which I did, with a little choking sound that hopefully only I could hear. Because vows of obedience fit me about as comfortably as skorts and neck kerchiefs. (It burns, precious, it burns.)

"What is the Law of the Pack, anyway?," Patrick asked, when I told him about it later.

I told him I didn't know, but it didn't matter.

I kept my other fingers crossed.


Blogger becca said...

I think you look absolutely official! This post made me think of that song "Leader of the Pack"

8:35 AM  
Blogger Jen K-C said...

Well done, you look great! I too have refused to wear the gear associated with being a girl guide leader, I don't get much flack as I volunteer when needed (or I intimidate them). Either way I wear similar colors at a much discounted price and I don't feel like I am back in Catholic school wearing a uniform and feeling repressed.

12:02 PM  
Blogger cce said...

I applaud you for shamelessly sharing your image in den-wear to all of us bloggers. I'm feeling really thankful that My Better Half's handling the den meetings this year. And I do think the scouts could use a queer eye makeover. Let's get the petition going.

12:06 PM  
Blogger littlepurplecow said...

You are a funny woman. You can't go wrong investing in a metal bolero tie. These things never go out of style in a weird sort of way.

10:39 PM  
Blogger Karla MG said...

Oh Kyran...I'm LOL at this! My DS has been a Tiger Cub in a den of about 7 boys since the beginning of the year. He's been accumulating patches, badges, merits...whatever the heck they're called, since the beginning of the year. G-ma & G-pa got him the "official" shirt for Christmas. Just last week, I finally got his "stuff" sewed on...after b'ing about how on earth any one is supposed to sew anything ON pockets. This should have all been done a month ago, but I was saved by the "2007 Ice Storm" (yes, I've thanked God profusely numerous times!) Next Sunday is the rescheduled B&G...and gifting G-parents will be home from snowbirding in TX to see their little guy in "proper attire." I asked DH about the parent's uniform, b/c the one time ever that I've been in the scout shop, they had a big display...DH's response: "No Way!" He's been "akela" and attended every single meeting, I've literally never been to anything...B&G will be the first. But when sometimes seeemingly-clueless den leader wants "ideas," I've e-mailed & phoned a myriad of GS ideas, having done Brownies, Juniors, and Cadettes for a couple of years. I was asked by soon outgoing den mom of another den, and pack asst leader (or something...I don't "get" the cub scout titles!) if I'd like to join the pack team, since I'm "experienced in scouting" Aaaahhhh....Hmmmmmm.......No.Thank.You. I trust the uniform police haven't found you yet? Oh, and kudos though, for being willing to lead...from those of us who aren't--or more correctly...who did and are tired, taking a sabatical!

4:48 AM  

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