Friday, February 19, 2010

Outraged mother does something crazy...

It amazes me sometimes the absurd things we are willing to do for our kids. Tomorrow afternoon, I will be taking a group of Earth Scouts to the University of Minnesota Raptor Center on a field trip. How did I get roped into that, you ask? Well, not only did I get sucked in, I instigated the entire thing. Ludicrous, huh?

When Lucas started 1st grade this year, he almost immediately began getting recruited by the Boy Scouts. The very first week of school, he brought home brochures touting the wonderful merits of the Boy Scouts. Now I know many previous Boy Scouts who are perfectly lovely, wonderful men....including my own brother. And I think they provide an amazing service to little boys...particularly boys in need of positive male role models. However, considering that the national Boy Scouts organization went all the way to the Supreme Court to fight for the right to exclude gay people from their ranks, I couldn't find it in my heart to let Lucas join. Despite the enthusiasm in his voice and the excitement in his beautiful blue eyes when he showed us the brochures, Ruanita and I had to say no. Of course, being the obsessive person that I am, I couldn't just let it go. No...not me. I stewed on it. I fretted about it. Why shouldn't MY son get a scouting experience? Why shouldn't MY son get to go camping and hiking? Why shouldn't MY son learn an invaluable life skill like knot-tying? Why shouldn't MY son get to wear a cheesy badge-studded vest and kerchief?

Being an outraged mother, I immediately began searching for an alternative scouting experience. My son was going to be a scout come hell or high water! It did not matter to me that Lucas was over the whole Boy Scouts thing and had moved on to his next interest. It did not matter to me that Lucas doesn't do so well out in nature, so may not have made the best Boy Scout anyway. He is absolutely terrified of bugs, swells up like a blowfish if he gets bitten by a mosquito, and has to have sunscreen applied an inch thick to protect his pale, pasty white skin. These things didn't matter. No, mommy was on a mission! Finding no alternative options in Minneapolis, I got a profoundly insane idea. Yes...I came to a thoroughly deranged conclusion. If there were no alternative scouting options for Lucas, I would start one myself! Other like-minded parents must be in the same situation. I can help them all! I immediately began searching the internet and found a national...wonderfully inclusive...scouting program called Earth Scouts. I printed the Earth Scouts Facilitator's handbook...over 500 pages...and read it cover to cover. I naively went about the task of recruiting parents. I signed up as a group facilitator on their national registry. Never mind that I had no educational background at all. Never mind that I am not really a "nature" idea of roughing it is a hotel without a mini bar. Never mind that I break out in hives at the mere thought of talking in front of a group of people. Why in the world did I think that I could lead a scout troop? Why didn't Ruanita talk me out of it? This is something that is way outside of my comfort zone. I guess foolish optimism got the better of me.

We had our first official meeting in November. I have a group of about 10 kids, boys and girls aged 5-8. We meet once a month in my basement family room. Tomorrow is our first field trip. We will earn our first badge next month. I have had a couple of kids drop out due to scheduling conflicts. All in all though, it has gone well. No one has told me that I am a complete and utter failure...yet. So I guess I am doing ok. It is more time-consuming than I anticipated. I am far from an ideal scout leader, but I try. I feel good about doing something. I may have been insanely naive starting an Earth Scouts troop, but it is something that I can do for my child.

Of course, I may rethink that when spring comes and "nature" is forced upon us. I don't know that I can handle a hiking trip with 10 kids...or worse yet...camping. I shudder at the thought! What have I gotten myself into??


Stacie said...

I think you are doing an amazing thing for all of your children--for all of your troop members, in fact--and you should be proud of yourself! Sounds like a huge undertaking, but I admire you for taking the leap and trying to make it work for your son. And hopefully, you'll find someone else to help handle the "nature" stuff. I think it's called a co-leader... wonder if you could find such a person on Craig's List?? :)

Shannon Ralph said...

Thanks Stacie. I should look into that "co-leader" thing. Sounds like an interesting concept. :)

Post a Comment