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.