My son asked if he could join the Boy Scouts. I objected on moral grounds. I just could not, in good conscience, stand outside the local grocery store soliciting innocent bystanders to buy beef sticks, candy bars, and 8,000 calorie bags of popcorn. Though still intrigued by identifying mountain lion scat, my son agreed that selling beef sticks sounded lame and dropped the subject.
The den mother, however, was more persistent. She started with guilt, prodding that ALL (as in the other five) the boys were doing it. “Every other Wednesday and one Monday a month my son would be the only boy in his class not dressed in khakis and a silk scarf.” Not really a selling point for me. The den mother continued her hunt, trying to make light of the commitment, explaining that scouts is run by devoted parents who make-up for the less devoted. My son’s first badge would therefore be surviving life with a less devoted parent. I still wasn’t buying in. The den mother, leader of the wolf packed, finally settled on attacking the weak. She stalked my son and went in for the kill: she invited him to Recruitment Night.
Against my better judgment I let him go . . . just the one time.
Recruitment night consisted of building ping-pong ball shooters, eating ice cream sundaes, and throwing whipped cream pies at the den mothers (I’m still sorry I missed that part). Needless to say, my son came home with his twinkling blue eyes promising to scoop dog poop for the rest of his life in exchange for a career in scouts. I caved.
His first meeting was Wednesday, and already he (meaning I) has a project. This weekend I have the pleasure of guiding my son through the wilderness of cake baking. From scratch. With scout themed decor. For the annual cake auction. Which leaves me to wonder: does a pile of Whoppers made to look like mountain line scat count as “decor?” Not to mention: at what point did scouts stop eating tree bark and start baking cakes?
Still, not wanting to be “that mother”, I decided instead to be supportive. After an unpleasant google search. (Never Google image search anything with the term scouts and cake). I find myself planning my entire weekend around tent making. As in, fruit roll up tents with pretzel poles. Because, of course, all decorations must be edible.
Scouting has always been on my list of parental Nevers. It joined the ranks of I will never: use the TV as a babysitter, give them anything less than whole grains and organic, yell when they spill their milk on the table, dress them like a dork and make them carry a flag in the school gymnasium.
All the Nevers come with good intention. They stand on two basic principles: the honest desire to do what is best, and the foolish assumption that I know what is best. The longer I am a parent, however, the less I parent on principle and the more I pray.
God promises that He, as the perfect Father, will withhold no good thing from His children. The key being that God always knows what is good.
I do not.
So I pray. That I would love my children, but not indulge them. That I would know that they are not perfect, and that they would always get caught. That I would guide their ambitions, but not manipulate them to fulfill MY dreams. That I would know what is good, and ask for forgiveness when I am wrong.
I hate to admit that baking a cake with my son and laughing on the candy aisle about all the sweets that could be mistaken for animal scat . . . is a good thing. It is an answer to prayer that defies all my principles. It is the kind of parent I want to be when I grow up: the kind that leads by prayer over principle.
But for the record: I’m still not selling beef sticks.