Arrow of Light
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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