Monday, June 6, 2016

Boy Scouts

Another one coming off the "draft" board...

I have a very complicated relationship with the Boy Scouts. Nationally, they are often turds. Yet, Connor has a ton of fun with his troop. He enjoys the other boys, he enjoys the activities, and I've been impressed with small gestures I've seen from older troop members toward younger troop members. I think Connor will find some comfort in middle school when he's walking down the hall and an older student says "hi".

This year's end of the year banquet was a biggie. Connor officially moved from cub scout to boy scout. (It was also a biggie for Ed because it meant he could retire his volunteer roll as troop leader, something he did not seem sad about letting go of.) I presumed this year's banquet would be like every other year's banquet, which would mean there would be some mild chaos, troop leaders would announce awards, kids would provide entertainment that was pretty half-assed, and we'd share a meal. (For the record, the banquet was super well organized by a few moms in the troop - not me - and the meal was really yummy, thanks to catering gone awry at one of the attendees' parties the night before.)

What I did not realize, perhaps because I have ducked out of these banquets early pretty regularly over the years, is that there would be a point in the night when the 5th graders would invite their parents onto the stage to stand with them as they ceremonially wrapped up their cub scout careers. Guess who wore jeans to the banquet? Guess who wore her "LOVE WINS" shirt? To be fair, I was wearing that particular shirt because I attended the local Odyssey of the Mind tournament earlier in the day, and it is solidly my lucky shirt. Whenever I wear it, people are extra nice to me. They smile at me more than usual, they comment on how much they like my shirt. And if they are part of the Momastery,  they instantly call me out as a sister.

Fortunately or unfortunately, this shirt is also received as a pro gay marriage shirt. To be clear, I am all in on gay marriage. There is no legitimate argument against it in my mind. But the boy scouts are not so sure about that, and if I had thought about it, I might have worn the shirt anyway. I did not think about it.

So I went up onstage, stood next to Ed (who was in full boy scout leader regalia) and mentioned to him that alerting me to this portion of the ceremony might have ended in my NOT wearing a shirt that could be perceived as controversial and not wearing jeans and sneakers. He then made the moment even more awkward, by sort of standing in front of me to block the shirt, probably assuming this would make me more comfortable. But instead, I felt even weirder because he is taller than me, so I was sort of trying to look like I wasn't being elbowed out of the way, while also not moving much and drawing attention away from whatever was going on at the banquet.

***New material added to original draft below ***

A few days ago, I received an email from Ed about Boy Scouts and an upcoming ceremony. The email highlighted that perhaps I would like to NOT wear my LOVE WINS shirt to the event described in the note. And while I do most certainly appreciate this tip, I'm now thinking "how can I show up at a scouting event not wearing it? I might have a reputation to uphold, even if nobody even noticed my shirt at the first event".

Connor and Helen most certainly do not see my shirt as a statement on marriage equality. When I asked Connor if I should wear my "love wins" shirt, he sighed and asked me if I could just dress like a "normal parent" and not stick out. Helen immediately piped up in support of the shirt, letting me know that "EVERYBODY loves my LOVE WINS" shirt. Ahh...the innocence of youth where the world is so clear.

And a dilemma.


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