It feels wonderful, but I also have this sense that I didn’t really “earn” my pin.
There seems to be this idea that Moms (and Dads) are instrumental in their son’s achievement. It seems to me, that I did the most good, when I stayed out of the way. Frankly, Boy Scouts were the Big Scissors that cut this momma’s apron strings. And really, looking back, those strings became seriously frayed the first time Number 1 Son went to Summer Camp. I will never forget reading the packing list for summer camp and seeing: No electronics. No phone. I was stunned.
On the one hand, can I say how delighted I was that he couldn’t take his Game Boy? On the other hand, how could my beloved, first-born, twelve-year-old son be gone for AN – ENTIRE – WEEK with no way for mom to contact him? I was sure that there must be some leeway in this, but when I asked about it…
“We’ll call you if there is an emergency,” the Very Capable Scout Leader Mr. Meagher said.
[Mental Gasp and Hanging Open Mouth]
“An emergency?” I asked, voice slightly quivering.
“He’ll be fine. It’s a great camp. He’ll have lots of fun, and be home before you know it!” replied Mr. Meagher with robust reassurance.
In retrospect, it seems that I wasn’t the first worried mother of a 12-year-old.
GraceNotes worried about bears. Mr. Garner hoped #1 Son had enough snacks, (ever the capitalist, Mr. Garner set up a black market candy operation when he was at camp). He was also pretty sure that #1 Son would wouldn’t find time to write a letter on the paper we provided despite the pre-addressed stamped envelope.
I know that God hears and answers the desperate prayers of mothers whose sons are at camp for the first time, because he came home happy and tanned, not burnt, with sunny highlights in his hair.
I worried about sunscreen, and getting along with people, and being unhappy and trapped at camp until the weekend, (shades of my miserable camp experience). I woke up at night, and went into his room and prayed. I looked at his empty place at the dinner table and prayed. I imagined many and varied “emergencies” some bloody, some not, and prayed. I know that God hears and answers the desperate prayers of mothers whose sons are at camp for the first time, because #1 Son came home tanned, not burnt, with sunny highlights in his hair. Tired – but happy – his face glowed and he was full of fun stories about all of the things they had done. “I want to go back next year, okay?” he said.
This was just the beginning of letting go, but I didn’t realize it, then.
Every Monday night, we would drop off and pick up. There was a week-long camp each summer, and monthly troop weekend camp outs. After the first year, I didn’t even have to pack anything – #1 Son did all that. Sometimes he would have to pack it in (hike to the campsite) so he would have to pack things a certain way, and he would say, “Mom, I’ve got it.” Sometimes we needed to pick up some freeze-dried camping meals. For summer camp, we would have a conversation about what badges he would work on, but mostly I just made sure he had his camp fee, filled out his forms and dropped him off, and then cleared the schedule the day he came home so he could shower, eat, and then sit in the living room and tell us all about it from start to finish!
He always came home from camp energized and confident in himself.
After his freshman year, #1 Son also committed each summer to a week-long mission trip to Appalachia, making it two weeks he’d be gone each summer. And by his junior year of high school, we were relatively comfortable putting him on a plane and sending him across the ocean for 10 days to Spain on a class trip, my primary concern that he avoid causing a diplomatic incident.
I was pretty determined not to be the pushy mom who badgers her boy to achieve a rank that he’s not full-out interested in pursuing. It seems to me, that the effort is so much more worth it, when it’s your own idea. For a while, it seemed he wasn’t going to go for Eagle. There are lots of scouts who don’t, most actually. Perhaps it seemed a long way off – a lot of things are like that when you’re a teenager – but he didn’t really get fired up about Eagle until the summer before his senior year of high school. I credit his Scout Troop leaders for keeping him motivated and encouraged, while providing slow, steady, calm guidance.
Was it hectic waiting that long? Maybe a little. I think though that by finishing his Eagle requirements as a High School Senior, with his efforts split between crew, classes, and various other activities, he learned a valuable lesson in time management. As an older scout, he had already served in various leadership positions through his troop and through Order of the Arrow, so he had maturity, training and life experience which enabled him to work his way through these final steps. Other than asking a few questions, and clearing out a few weekends for his Eagle Project, I had very little to do with Number 1 Son’s Eagle Achievement.
After all of the hard work that has gone into this last year, the Eagle Scout Court of Honor last night was a beautiful reminder for me of how much #1 Son has grown and matured over the long years, and how wonderfully prepared he is to soar.
Scout Chaplain Tom opened and closed the evening with prayer. Classmate Preston Marquis, who is the Vice Chief of the Order of the Arrow nationwide and jets around promoting the organization, was in town and able to serve beautifully as the Master of Ceremonies. Scout Leader Mr. Trent described the requirements of Boy Scouts, both in achievement and in personal character while fellow troop members from young Tenderfoot Scouts to college bound Eagle Scouts, lit candles representing each level of advancement, and every vital character trait. His Scout Leader Mr. Meagher spoke of #1 Son’s accomplishments and his unique contribution to the troop. #1 Son then spoke, thanking his troop and excellent leaders, his family, and friends from crew, and school, and the neighborhood, many of whom attended the ceremony.
I am especially grateful to Boy Scout Troop 628, and especially the wonderful leaders, Mr. Meagher and Mr. Trent. I know in my heart that an enormous amount of credit is due them for their personal sacrifice of time and energy, and the care and guidance they showed my son.
It is particularly poignant because today, we are packing, and tomorrow we will drive to Northern Virginia, and Thursday, after unpacking a few things, I will give my Number 1 Son a long hug, a kiss on the head, and drive away, leaving him at college where he will launch the next stage of his life.
So, while it will be a time of adjustment, and lots of prayer, over an empty bed, an empty chair… it is also a time of joy!
My Eagle will soar.
I watched the faces of the younger scouts as they listened during the ceremony. For a moment I thought of their mothers’ and what they will ponder in their hearts a few years from now. And I smiled. I have a pin that says Eagle Mom, and some of them will too.