At the school picnic in August, Grandma came to me and said with a big smile, "I signed Liam up for Cub Scouts." Like she had taken the first step in solving the ills of our existence. And I took the wind out of her sails by saying "I don't want him to be a cub scout." Which makes no sense to her. Why wouldn't you want your kid to be prepared? "Because," I say. "They don't allow gay men to be scout leaders." Which is something I feel I have to protest. Gay men don't molest boys, pedophiles do. It's like saying all Catholics could be tempted to blow up an abortion clinic. Maybe they should change the rule so that pedophiles aren't allowed to be scout leaders. Now that's something I could get behind.
I'm also uncomfortable with the often awkwardly glossed-over "Duty to God" business. Why do you have to believe in God to go camping? Are atheist children not allowed? Or humanists? Or Christine O'Donnell's wiccan child? Maybe this should be a church-sponsored club so they could openly perform their duties to God and exclude anyone they want without trying to hide it? The whole thing seems disingenuous and subversively conservative and I don't want to be a part of it.
So I'm going to squelch it. Remember, Liam is a quitter not a joiner, so I don't think my minor protest will make much impact. He'll shrug and get distracted by a matchbox car he sees under the couch and move on to the next thing.
But I'm wrong. He's really excited about being a cub scout. He's invested. And he panics and begs when I say we aren't doing it.........even when I throw hot wheels in front of his face to throw him off. So I ask him what he thinks cub scouts is all about and he says "survival." I want to tell him it's really more about "meetings" than "survival." There's no knife play or anything. But I take his excitement seriously. This might be authentic. Maybe even necessary?
So I take some time to research two things:
A) What's this all about for him? B) What's the cost/benefit ratio?
And this is what I came up with:
A) WHAT'S THIS ALL ABOUT?
1. Archery with Marshmallows: At the school picnic, the cub scout booth hosted an archery game involving the launching of marshmallows. Liam quickly figured out that he could stand behind the bullseye and eat all the marshmallows that missed the target. He probably thinks they do this at every meeting.
2. The Uniform: Hi digs it. Can't wait to go shopping, yes SHOPPING, for the shirt the patches the neckerchief (what a nerdy word!), the cap the belt - all of it. He wants to put it on and stare at himself in the mirror like some backwoods beauty queen. In addition to looking as cool as a Canadian Mounty, I also think the uniform immediately identifies him as belonging to a group. Belonging. Immediately. Hmmm.
3. Classmates: The boys in his class are talking about cub scouts. If he were a cub scout, he would have something to talk to them about. It's the belonging thing again.
4. Ezra: He misses his buddy, Ezra. Ezra was a cub scout. He was 2 years older and sometimes put his cub scout uniform on to come over and play. I think it made him feel important. Ezra also won the pinewood derby. So cub scouts equals cool older boys, cars and glory.
B) COST / BENEFIT RATIO
COST: My values are compromised and I'm made to feel mildly uncomfortable by awkward references to God and one's nebulous duty to him/her/it.
BENEFIT: Liam gets an extra opportunity to socialize boys from his new school. He gets to feel like one of the guys...........at a time when he feels like he has no guys.
And suddenly the issue seems much clearer.
For the time being, I'll have to narrow my focus and give Liam as much back-up as possible so he can settle in and call this place home. When "my two dads" and Christine O'Donnell's wiccan child file lawsuits against the Boy Scouts of America, I'll be right there - showing my child how to stand up with his fellow citizens against the evils of discrimination and exclusion. But for now, they'll have to fight their battles on their own. I've got a neckerchief to tie.