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Monday, January 25, 2010

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Arrow of Light

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My newly minted eleven-year-old crossed over to Boy Scouts tonight after five years as a Cub, a monumental achievement, given that his mother barely lasted two weeks in Brownies. I was as proud as if I had produced the first college graduate in our family history. It was an elaborate ceremony, with the Boy Scouts and Troop Leaders sitting opposite the Cubs, waiting to admit them to their ranks. I may have briefly struggled with the urge to lead the assembly with the Spongebob Movie anthem, "Now That We're Men," but mostly I had to blink back tears, watching our solemn and proud boys face us, their parents and den leaders, and prepare to shift their allegiance. Every single one of them so fine, straight and true. Every one of them so ready to make that crossing, like every eleven year old boy that ever lived.

It deserves a ceremony. Some say it requires one.

As I watched them waiting for their names to be called, the cheesiness of the props and the cliche of the Native American references fell away, and I felt like we were all participating in something as sacred and as old as time. Whatever it's called, however it's done, it serves a purpose. The boys were almost visibly vibrating with the resonance of the symbolic call to cross over.

I have my issues with the Boy Scouts of America, as I do with just about any institution, and from time to time, I've been known to poke fun at knee socks on grown men in short pants. Also, if we stay married through one more Pinewood Derby, it will be a miracle. But I've come to appreciate it for what both my sons (and next year, I imagine, a third) get from it: guidance, adventure, and exposure to organizational skills that--face it--are in short supply at home. (A requirement in my son's handbook: "Make a list of maintenance tasks required to keep a household running smoothly." Me, to my son: "Just walk around the house and make note of everything you see.")

But there's more to it than that. I don't have the first clue how to raise boys into men. Their father does, but it takes more than one role model. There are no male teachers at our elementary school, and while I don't consider it a handicap to be surrounded by strong, loving, capable women, something's missing from my kids' education. They find it at Scouts, thanks to the wonderful Dads who serve as our pack and troop leaders. And so I'm grateful to them, knee socks and all, for being there, tonight and every week, ushering my sons safely forward, welcoming them to the company of men.


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15 Comments:

Blogger Mike said...

Congrats. I have a Webelo I and a newly badged Wolf. I too have issues with some of the teachings but try to teach my boys the difference and have fun with the stuff we can have fun with. I'll take any excuse I can get to spend more time with them.

12:15 AM  
Blogger Naomi said...

oh I LOVE this post and am forwarding it to my kiddo's cub scout leaders ...

Congrats on the graduation! Many happy Boy Scout memories are ahead!

5:45 AM  
Blogger bluebird of paradise said...

Well said "Wolf Mother"!

7:27 AM  
Blogger Accentia said...

Great post! Love your writing. Favorite line, "The boys were almost visibly vibrating with the resonance of the symbolic call to cross over."

I love the fact that you saw it and felt. You were truly present in the moment.

Thanks for sharing.

9:51 AM  
Blogger Jomama said...

Lovely post. Ours is crossing over in a few weeks.

11:48 AM  
Blogger lenniekat said...

I respectfully chuckled when I first started reading this, thinking: how very Canadian of you, Kyran. But then, you got me with the whole 'sacred and old as time' thing. So now I'm thinking I should put my son in Cub scouts - maybe along with your third scout? Anyway, and as always, I sure appreciate your thoughts here.

2:07 PM  
Blogger Karen Maezen Miller said...

The school for citizens has created one more.

2:27 PM  
Blogger No New is Good News said...

Hi Kyran,

I wanted to add, you have a great eye/camera aka you take great pix.

We did brownies, guides, explorers, and cadets. I think there is value in the group/team thing for kiddies.

xo Tara

9:26 PM  
Blogger Susan said...

"There are no male teachers at our elementary school, and while I don't consider it a handicap to be surrounded by strong, loving, capable women, something's missing from my kids' education."

Amen. I cheer — audibly, not silently — every time I see a man in early childhood education. Or should I say, both times. (TJ Deeter, where are you?) The boys need the positive male influence so much, even more so at my urban school than your kids' suburban one. Until teachers start making a decent wage, I fear it will never change.

12:36 PM  
Blogger Denise said...

I always enjoy reading your insights and love the way you take me to the core of your emotion. Thanks.

3:17 PM  
Blogger Tammy said...

Our three boys are boy scouts, well on the path to Eagle. I wholeheartedly agree that the men who lead our troop command my respect. Their dedication to these kids after their own are grown and gone is something that they offer so freely and with such enthusiasm.

Congratulations!

Tammy

8:31 PM  
Blogger 6512 and growing said...

Congratulations.
Those ceremonies are total tear-jerkers.
I enjoy reading your perspective and well-put words.

3:29 PM  
Blogger vfg said...

My father and brothers were huge scouters; my husband, though he "went through the program," is much less enthusiastic. I've spent the last several years being more jaded about the whole thing. Thanks for reminding me (infant son on my lap, squeezing in "just one more" blog to browze) why his Scouting experience (inevitable, as our church heavily supports it) will be good. Important.

9:15 AM  
Blogger Shelley said...

Congrats fellow-Arrow-of-Light mom! I too was a Brownie dropout! I was thinking it might be a Canadian thing but then Nana was a Girl Scout til the very end!

5:56 PM  
Blogger what's her bucket said...

My son is going to cross over in a couple weeks. My husband has been a leader and Cub Master for the past 5 years and although he looks kind of dorky in that uniform he gives so much time to our son and the other boys that it just doesn't matter anymore. He is helping them learn important skills to become better men one day. It's a great program.

2:53 PM  

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