Friday, September 26, 2014

Lured into the Den

I'm not even sure what happened to me last night.  My 9-year-old son asked to go to a cub scout meeting.  How did he get this idea in his head?  Well, a Cub Scout guy recruited him, that's how.  A man came to the school, (it wasn't on the playground or anything, I checked) and gave a presentation. My son was the only one in his school to follow the trail of crumbs leading to the place we were last night, a dimly lit den in the back of an old school gym.

I knew very little about scouts.  In first grade I was a girl scout, okay I was actually a brownie. And truthfully the name was misleading.  I had no idea I would have to do anything other than eat brownies. Public service? Talk to old people? I guess I am better off for it, plus the sash came in handy for my 1998 girl scout Halloween costume.

When we arrived I was greeted with extreme enthusiasm.  A man wearing an outfit similar to a park ranger approached me.  I'm sure his shirt fit him at one point, but on this particular day the buttons were working overtime just keeping it together.  He immediately started talking to me in what sounded like a different language.  All I heard was Webelo, patch, ceremony, and few other words.  He asked if I had the book.  Again, I had no idea what " the book" is or anything else he was talking about.  No problem, he pulled a well worn book out of his back pocket and began showing me all sorts of things that I would have to witness my son doing in order for him to earn a patch.  He swiftly corrected my faux pas saying that it is a badge, not a patch.  I thought that all this stuff was his job, not mine.  I guess you could say that I like to keep my parental involvement in extra curricular activities to a bare minimum.  As soon as you volunteer to be a coach or a snack minion you are put on an underground list and will be contacted to do everything forever more. I learned that the hard way, so now I put my husband's name on the list.  With everything he was describing it made me wonder if I wasn't joining this troop too. 

When I finally moved past the six inches from the door where he had stopped me, I realized that I was the only woman there.  I cursed my husband under my breath.   In addition to being the only woman, I had just come from work and was wearing a pencil skirt.  Not a big deal except the table in which I had to sit was a cafeteria table with the bench attached to it.   Being gentlemanly scouts, they asked me to sit down and were all waiting for me to do it.  I got as close to the bench as I could and hopped to lift my leg over. Now I was straddling it and very fearful that my skirt would rip. I still had to lift the other leg. I tried but my tight skirt restricted any movement past my knees. I had no other choice then to hike my skirt up to my thighs so I could manage to get my other leg over.

This could have possibly earned all the boys and their fathers the peep show badge. I'm sure they saw more than they needed to and more than some ever have.

Once I was seated the meeting began. When I finally got a chance to look at the rest of the boys I started to panic. Fin was twice their size.  I raised my hand and asked if this was the 4th grade group.  He seemed annoyed and said yes.  As I looked around, the boys looked like a deck of garbage pail kids.  I saw Bony Tony, Travelin Travis, Junky Jeff and Starin Jarren.   It was hot as blazes in this room and I had to go to the bathroom but I didn't want to get up. So I sat there and listened to them talk about fund raising by selling popcorn, beef jerky and chocolate.  This is involvement-slacker karma.  Peer pressure from your own child so they can win that unattainable laptop if they sell a silo of popcorn.  Is there a pyramid scheme a badge? Because that is all fund raising is. The kids sit back, while their parents, aunts, uncles, grandparents beg all their friends to purchase items that they otherwise wouldn't.  Yet the kids reap all the rewards and the parents get fat from all the extra chocolate they had to buy. 

The den master said that because Finegan was new they were all going to tell everyone a little bit about themselves.   Finegan began with 

"My name is Finegan with only one "n". I like to eat sausage and milk."

What the hell? Why would he say that?  Irony aside, it made no sense? Despite my horror, his answer seemed perfectly acceptable to all the cub scouts. The den guy even gave me a wink. I know he was seeing dollar signs for the beef jerky sales.   I clearly need to talk to Fin about disclosure and introductions.

They discussed earning the health and environmental badges.  Followed by a snack of indoor s'mores, which consisted of marshmallow in a jar, Nutella and graham crackers served on paper plates.   The meeting concluded and the garbage pail gang headed outside to play.  That was it?  I thought boy scouts was all about learning to tie a knot or build a fire, apparently not.  At this point I would like to learn to tie a noose and get me out of this uncomfortable situation.

Before I left I was given specific instructions as to where to purchase the uniform and book.  Finegan finally came back inside with his new best friends talking about farts.  Add my son right into that deck of Garbage Pail Kids under Flatulent Fin.

What I have learned as a parent is that the path you see your child going on is usually not the same path they take.  It doesn't mean it's wrong, but as a parent it is really hard for me to not redirect him in a direction that I feel would be more suitable.  But if both path's destinations are happiness, I guess it doesn't matter which path they take. For him, his preferential path includes this, and I am not going to create a roadblock, (even thought I really want to). I will provide an exit strategy however if he is so inclined. 

I returned home and shared this story with my husband.  He did not share in my distress. In fact he seemed proud. Why? Because he was a freaking boy scout! My God sometimes you have no idea who you marry.  I would not be surprised if by weekends end he is sporting his old uniform. But then again, why shouldn't I be proud too? After all, my child did walk into a room full of strangers and leave with 6 new best friends. More than I can say I did. 

As promised I went to the office headquarters to pick up a shirt and a book. The Boy Scouts of America was founded in 1910 an I believe the man who helped me may have been there at the inaugural ceremony.  I explained what I needed and he was not amused with my ignorance. Unlike him, this has not been my entire life.  He shuffled along in his uniform and asked me a bunch of questions I did not know.  He said I needed a shirt, belt, hat, patches and neckerchief. At which I laughed, because who actually says neckerchief? This man did not have a sense of humor either.  When I asks him if the patches were iron on he asked me if I knew how to sew. Obviously not, if I'm asking if they are iron-on.  His patience had just about run out but it wasn't until I said the outfit was cute that he about lost it.  He quickly found the book for me and took me to the register. Where this "outfit" cost more than any outfit I have purchased for myself since becoming a mother.  

Over lunch I was able to peruse the book and think they need to add a humor badge because as of yet, I have not seen any notion of it.  I did notice a few good things in it. Like, how to change a tire, how to care for a house etc. This may not be all that bad.  But for the price, I think I will have Finegan mentor all his brothers in a weekend intensive so that we can cut to the chase without the rest. 


  1. Oh I coulda gave you Jake's perfectly pressed shirt and neckerchief...still brand new;) Good luck.

  2. Fin was so thrilled to tell me that "my Mom's out buying my whole uniform right now!"