Tuesday, September 10, 2013

The Reluctant Scout

It finally happened the other day.

I knew it would. I thought that possibly I could evade it or ignore it and last year I did, but it happened again.

little kid wants to join Boy Scouts.

And I get it, I really do. But boy, oh boy, do I strongly dislike the organization. I know it's getting better, I know the individual troops are most likely fine, I know they don't have enough sway to negatively influence my child but let me tell you exactly how much I don't want to fund raise or contribute to the organization as a whole. There's a lot about the adult side of things there that I really disagree with. I will do you a favor and not list all of them.

They gave him a flyer at school and he came home and asked about it and I set it aside and said we'd consider it, not really considering it. Then the Monday of the meeting, he asked again.

"How about karate?" I tried.

"I want to do Boy Scouts."

I sighed. "Look, I want you to do Boy Scouts too. It's just something your dad and I have to talk about, there are some issues with their leadership--not anything that would affect you directly, just grown up political stuff, that we really don't like. We also need to make sure we can commit the time and money to a new activity."

"What kind of politics stuff?"

"Up until recently, they didn't allow gay members and in the past have even gone so far as to kick boys who admitted feeling that way out of the group. That doesn't really line up with their duty to be kind, some kids who have gotten all the way to the very top ranking have even quit over it. I think most Scouts themselves are good people who do nice things but it's not very nice of the organization as a whole. There are still some other ongoing issues, too. It makes it hard to give them our time and money."

"What's their problem with gay people?"

"I don't really know. I guess because the Bible says something about it."

"I thought the Bible wanted us to be nice to each other, I thought that was the whole point."

"Me too. I guess there are some old rules in there though and people still like some of those."

"I don't think God or Jesus would like it." He thought for a minute, "Well...I will still be nice to gay people. I like them and think they can love who they want. But I want to be a Boy Scout."

Of course he will still be nice to gay people. Of course he wants to be a Boy Scout.

I was sick yesterday for the orientation (and to be honest, I was still leaning so far on the side of no that my headache was barely a factor. The fact that the activities aren't something I'm personally interested in at all doesn't make it more tempting, and Mr. Ashley works a lot.) I thought I missed a bullet. I folded up the flyer and stuck it in a magazine. Out of sight, out of mind.

Until he came home from school and asked if the meeting had passed. I reminded him that his brother and I were sick yesterday and he looked sad.

"I wanted to be a Boy Scout."

"How about any other activity? In the whole wide world? Karate, guitar, rock climbing, painting, sailing, I'll buy you a kayak--what?"

"I just wanted to be a Boy Scout, and now it's too late." He wasn't pouting. He was sad.

I sighed. "It's not too late. You can still be a Boy Scout." I wasn't pouting. I was sad. Sad that the grown-ups can't just practice what they preach and play nicely with others and that this is still an issue at all.

"There goes your dignity," added Big Kid, who I hadn't realized was listening.

"Me?" I asked.

"He's going to look ridiculous in that outfit and they don't like gay people."

"The outfit isn't bad. They're coming around on the gay thing, maybe. I think it will be okay," I said.

He raised his eyebrows and made a skeptical face. I would have made the same face at myself.


bootsie q. mcgromblestein said...

oh man, where do i start? my youngest (same age as yours) is exactly the same. we're not at all a boy scouts kind of family, despite loving camping and the outdoors and all that jazz. just not a religious, homophobic family at all. he's been after us to join for 2 years, so we caved this year. 3 weeks of meetings later and i can't wait until he gets bored and wants to quit.

+it isn't costing us as much as we expected. $15 for his yearly membership fee and next year it will be paid for him by the pack out of the fundraising.
+we only have ONE godawful fundraiser each year for our pack.
+at least in our pack, the uniform is optional.

-the pack my son belongs to is in a very very narrow-minded former sundown town full of good ol' bible belt wearing, gay-hating, god-fearin' folks. not a progressive place at all. yes, the question of gays in the BSA came up during the first meeting, and YES, it was extremely awkward for me sitting there listening to all these parents nodding and "mmmhmm"ing in agreement when the packmaster stated he personally felt the decision to accept the gays was a bad one.
-since we're not religious, the first 2 achievements are heavy on the religion and when my son was asked last night, "what does worship and faith mean to you?" he flatly stated, "nothing." i got a lot of looks. doesn't help that a lot of these parents are people i hated in jr. high when i was going to school in this same town.
-the hour i have to spend crammed into a tiny classroom of the local church with these people every monday night is easily ranked lower on the fun scale than anything else i do all week.
-other people's bratty kids, all trying to one-up each other and being jerks.

+ my son is excited about it, still, and hasn't seemed to notice the crappiness of it all, thankfully. as long as he's happy and i can talk to him about anything that i disagree with, i think he'll be fine.

Destingirls said...

How can I be a friend matchmaker and get you and momastery to hang out?? You would be bff's!

Seriously though, I would feel the same about this if I had a son.

Unknown said...

OMG I love this. You are such a good mom. Yes, boy scouts THINK the Bible says what they think it does, but the Bible doesn't say to KICK LITTLE BOYS OUT because of their homosexuality. Little Kid is right - Jesus and God just want us to love everyone. Love this. You're raising those kiddos right!

mom said...

He would make a great scout!!

Brianna said...

Damn, its amazing how big kid said what you were thinking. :/ im not jealous of this situation at all. Being a parent is hard.

Stacey said...

We have struggled with the same things. Fortunately our local organization is good and the topic of homosexuality has not come up. Also the religious part of scouting is always up to the parent with our pack. My husband and I are both involved in the leadership aspect with our local group and all three of our boys are in scouts. However, if the homosexuality issue is raised, we will pull our boys in a heartbeat. We are raising them to believe that you love who you love and being a homosexual is as out of your control as your eye color. We are also active in our church. Fortunately it has never been an issue there either. Good luck!

jackie said...

Ugh, this hits close to him. My husband was a boy scout. An eagle scout, actually. Deep in the heart of Texas, in the early 90s.

His experience was great- his troop was through his private/rich school and all they did was camping and go on all kinds of great adventure trips (snorkeling in the florida keys, backpackign trips in Minnesota, etc).

However, now that we have our own kids, the idea of allowing them to join scouts is just...not sitting right. Plus, we live in an area where Scouts are pretty lame. I told DH we'd be much better off sending the kids to some kind of survival/wilderness camp over the summer and taking cool family vacations. And i told my husband I'd feel better about it if he were a troop leader or something--but he doesnt have time for it.

Ugh. And yes, the uniforms are SUPER dorky.

Side rant: i hate girl scouts too.

Anonymous said...

There goes your dignity?! BAHAHAHAHAHA!!!! BK is f'n hilarious. -Murphy