Scouting Dilemma

On the one hand, the Boy Scouts of Amer­i­ca are (offi­cial­ly) a dis­crim­i­na­to­ry orga­ni­za­tion of whom I real­ly do not approve. On the oth­er hand, my boys are in Boy Scouts (Cub Scouts, tech­ni­cal­ly). They enjoy the peer social activ­i­ties, and I enjoy the oppor­tu­ni­ties they would not have if they were not in an orga­ni­za­tion like that (camp­ing, civic duties, vol­un­teer­ing, etc.). I also like that they have friends there and get to hang with them.

But I am find­ing it more and more dif­fi­cult to rec­on­cile the two.

There are few estab­lished alter­na-Scout­ing oppor­tu­ni­ties avail­able in our area. (No Camp­Fire group, no YMCA Adven­ture Guides, no BPSA group.)

So, I can:

  1. Keep my kids in the BSA and shut my mouth (or work from with­in for change). In the mean­time I keep send­ing mon­ey to the BSA, implic­it­ly sup­port­ing their posi­tions.

  2. Pull my kids from Scout­ing and enjoy not hav­ing annoy­ing activ­i­ties three times a month.

  3. Put my time and trea­sure where my ethics are and start some­thing myself, either per­son­al­ly ((DIY looks cool) or with the struc­ture (if not sup­port) of some orga­ni­za­tion like BPSA.

The first choice, stick­ing it out, is where we have default­ed. But when we joined the cur­rent Pack, (remem­ber, we just moved) at the intro­duc­to­ry meet­ing some hon­cho from the local Coun­cil came to sell it, and the first thing he said was how won­der­ful it is to have a place “where we can talk about God. We can’t do it in our schools!” He went on a bit about how glo­ri­ous this was, and how impor­tant, and then he might have caught my eye and he nev­er came back to it. It left a real­ly unpleas­ant taste in my mouth.

The sec­ond choice, ditch­ing, would be easy, but it feels so wrong. Worse than choice num­ber one, in fact.

The last one is clear­ly the right choice. But I am old, lazy, and tired (or at least I feel that way) and this would be a huge com­mit­ment on my part. I think there might be some sup­port in the com­mu­ni­ty (at the very least in my church, where it has already been brought up once), so I prob­a­bly wouldn’t be fly­ing alone. But this is real­ly quite a daunt­ing task. I am, shall we say, daunt­ed by the thought of it.

Thoughts? Encour­age­ment? Vol­un­teers?

On having boys, instead

A while ago, a friend prompt­ed me to think about what it means to me to have two boys, instead of the girls I so pub­licly want­ed when we were preg­nant. I came up with a response then, but thought it might be worth flesh­ing out my thoughts some more. For my ben­e­fit, at least.

(File under: I like myself bet­ter when I have time to be intro­spec­tive)

I was raised by women. Mom, three sis­ters, and (ear­ly on) a maid. Dad has always been there, yes, but he’s a very orga­nized, dis­ci­plined man, not the sort to con­sort freely with messy kids. (Yes, Sweet­ie, there’s some of that in me, too.) So I believed that I under­stood, when I was approach­ing father­hood, what it was like to raise a girl. More impor­tant­ly, I had no idea what it was like to raise a boy. I nev­er had broth­ers, injured my pride ear­ly on when it came to sports, and found my com­fort­able niche among the geeks (all of whom were boys: rev­el, cur­rent-gen geeks, in your geek girls).

My girls were going to be cute, cud­dly, lov­ing, some­times pouty and weepy, always ready to melt a heart and be… well, girly. Their clothes were going to be bet­ter, and yet they could read the boy books and do the boy things that I did, too. I sore­ly want­ed that. Plus, I had the best name picked out.1

But we knew it was a crap­shoot, and I did not want to be dis­ap­point­ed at the birth of my child, so we specif­i­cal­ly asked after the gen­der at our ultra­sound. And sure enough, there was a penis, front and cen­ter. I had a lot of time to get used to the idea, and I did. When our first boy was born, I was in love, scared wit­less, and so very, very tired. By the time I was rest­ed enough to think again (some six months lat­er?) there wasn’t any bit of my desire for a girl left. And real­ly there’s not a lot of dif­fer­ence between a baby boy and a baby girl, except how you have to be wary dur­ing dia­per changes.

When we got preg­nant for a sec­ond time, I went through it all again, but with the added pres­sure of know­ing this would be our last child, too. And we asked about the gen­der again, and we got a penis again. And sure enough, when he popped out, there it was. And again, I con­fess to no dis­ap­point­ment then, none at all, whether it was masked by exhaus­tion or whether I’d burned it all up over the preg­nan­cy, I don’t know.

I do know that as I have watched them grow up (they are nine and five now) I’ve had times, twinges, my wife called them, when I have wished for a girl again. Not to replace my boys, cer­tain­ly, but to add to the mem­o­ries and the expe­ri­ences I’m hav­ing watch­ing them grow. Two boys is a won­der­ful, gar­ru­lous, whiny, heart­warm­ing, bond­ing, bruis­ing thing, no doubt. I do some­times won­der what it would be like with some girly­ness mixed in.

But in the end, I’m okay with two boys, instead. As they say: with teenage boys, you need to pay atten­tion to where the penis is, but with teenage girls you need to pay atten­tion to all the penis­es. I’ve hand­i­ly avoid­ed most of the dra­ma that accom­pa­nies own­ing a teenage girl, and yet I get to raise my boys as sen­si­tive young men in a world that could cer­tain­ly use some.

And after all, you love them all so much it hurts.

When my eldest con­fessed, when he was five, that his secret favorite col­or was pink, I shed a lit­tle tear for future him and loos­ened my grip on the girl I will nev­er have.

  1. Maria Vio­let. Maria after my sis­ter, and Vio­let for my wife’s Grand­moth­er. Sigh.