Monday, May 11, 2009

in your face!

Mr. T loves Boy Scouts. He is a Webelo, he can't wait to be an Eagle Scout one day. He thinks camp life is the bomb, he wears his uniform for fun and he has participated with varying levels of enthusiasm in every aspect of Scouting Life this school year.

I'm glad we signed him up for it--he's excited about it, he's bonded with a few buddies and it's filled up a lot of our (ahem) spare time around here. Seriously. Like once a week there is a Scouting Activity and every month there is a Scouting Project. And in Mr. T's den, parents actively participate. By actively participate I mean they sit around not talking to each other for the entire event--and then sit around looking at each other with glazed-over expressions for about 20 minutes after everything is wrapped up. Because they apparently have nothing better to do and no place better to go. The den mother is terrific--she moves things along, seems quite organized, but a lot of these Scout Parents are mostly dull as dustbunnies. I've tried striking up conversations on the sidelines, but usually I'm brushed off because they're so intent on watching their Scout participate that my chatter distracts.

I'm from the school of thought that one parent (two tops) runs the show for all of the boys. The other parents drop off and pick up, in turn supplying brownies or juice boxes as needed. But in our Scout den, every child shows up with an adult (or TWO!) adhered to their side. No one told me that BSA was a whole-family event. But I think that's a local anomaly because when we've seen other Scout Troops, it's a bunch of boys with one adult in charge--no parent groupies bringing up the rear in silent formation.
But we love our son so Mr. D and I suffer through this odd (and uncomfortable) ritual every week, taking turns with the schedule and encouraging Mr. T in all things Scoutish. The latest project was a small wooden boat for a Raingutter Regatta.

I spent hours--even going online--learning how to assemble this boat. Like most Scout Things, the directions are vague, spoken in Scout Code which is passed along through generations of Scouts. Newcomers like us are left to muddle about, getting more specific information about Scout stuff is like trying to learn the secrets of the Freemasons.

In the box supplied by BSA is a set of directions, a small wooden block, a small wooden dowel, a plastic L-shaped thing, a plastic sail, and a heavy metal polygonal shaped disc. According to the directions, the disc is the "keel" which is to be "inserted in the slot indicated." Indicated where? I turned the boat every which way and saw smooth surface. No pre-cut notches at all. I re-read the directions, researched the boats online (go ahead and click--see what I mean?) and studied the photos of BSA raingutter regatta boats on the box cover. No where, no how did it tell me exactly what to do about the friggin' keel. Or the rudder for that matter. Or how to put a design on the slick plastic sail.
I tested Sharpie markers on the sail and Mr. T decorated his thusly. Then I used a knife and dug in a rudder slot at the edge of the boat's hull. Mr. T did all the decorating/painting/sanding. I sprayed the wooden bits down with clear enamel paint and adhered mast, rudder and sail with a hot glue gun. I tossed the keel into the trash. The boat floated just fine in our kitchen sink, so whatever.

Saturday morning I arrived at the BSA Raingutter Regatta with Team Testosterone (Mr. D had a game that day). Several parents commented on the missing keel, assuring me that the boat would tip over without it and didn't I know how I was supposed to attach it?

No! I even went online. There are NO clear instructions for this BSA crap. I'm sick of it. The boat floats fine--I tested it at home. Is he legal without the keel? He is? Good. Then we'll be fine. I don't care if he wins. Our goal was to show up with a boat.
I may have come off as a little huffy based on the eye-rolling and heavy sighing of the Webelo parents.
The races started and the BSA Parent Brigade hovered silently on the sidelines. Team Testosterone and I cheered heartily. (Go! Blow! Blow! Blow! 2-4-6-8! You won't hyperventilate! Go Scouts! Gimme a B! Gimme a L! Gimme a O! Gimme a W! Whatcha got? BLOW!) Even if Mr. T's boat didn't win, he had a supportive cheering section, by golly.

The boys blew into their sails, the boats wobbled and tipped their way down the length of the raingutters set up on picnic tables in the VFW park pavilion. And Mr. T's boat? Kept winning. His boat didn't tip as much, and being lighter, it was a faster boat.

One by one he knocked out the competition. I resisted looking over at the BSA Parent Brigade because a smug smile was forming on my lips. Mr. T ended up taking second place (losing to a kid with a superior blowing technique--who looked pretty dizzy when we left).

Team Testosterone and I packed up our gear and headed out for Mr. D's baseball game, saying "Good race," to the boys we passed. To my credit, I did NOT say to the parents what I was thinking: FACE! In yo face, betches! Keel THIS! Because that? Would have been bad form.
Second Place! In your face!


  1. Yay for Mr. T! I love the design on the sail.

    Those types of parents drive me nuts. I'm a drop-the-child-off-and-leave-parent, because I'm much better at my job if I don't waste my time sitting around and, instead, use that time to, say, go to the grocery store and buy food for my family.

  2. Funny! If he'd come in first, I wonder if they'd try to disqualify you for having a modified boat...

    That's a good looking sail.

  3. Too funny. Sadly, this is why we dropped out of scouts after Tigers. DOTR said he hated scouts when he was a kid and he sure wasn't going to do it as an adult! That left me, and I said "thanks, but no thanks, I have lots of ballet to tend to"....and that was that.

    This kind of reminds me of the parents that go to school to eat lunch with their kids every single day. I love my kids, but I'm a firm believer in letting them have their own "things". Like school is "their place" and they don't want me there hanging around all the time. The hard part is being just enough involved that they are happy you're there without wearing out your welcome.

    Maybe you can find a new den with less creepy parents???

  4. Great job!

    I found Boy Scouts to require a lot more family involvement than Girl Scouts. Of course i was always the Den Mother so I would have had to be there anyway. Parents didn't stay for den meetings though-just for pack meetings.

  5. HAHA! I would have paid 20 bucks to watch if you would have done the "IN YO FACE" thing, and posted it on YouTube. hehe. Two of my girls are in Girl Scouts, and it's a really laid back troop. I am definitely a drop-and-go mom. Kudos to you and your hubby for hanging in there with the other parents, and congrats to Mr. T on making 2nd in the boat race, even without the motherlovin' keel! ;)

  6. I'm so proud of y'all! If you ever need a "scout interpreter" just let me know. As an Eagle Scout, my DH knows all things scoutie. :)

  7. Good for Mr T! Tell him congrats from blogland from us!

    I'd guess you wouldn't need a keel with the weight of the solid wood and then the rudder guiding the boat. Makes me wonder who designed the original plan. And wouldn't you think Boy Scout parents would be willing to appreciate difference? I thought that was part of the Boy Scout credo?

  8. You are too polite - I SO would have rubbed it in!

  9. I am also of the drop off/ pick up school of thought.

    Nice job!

  10. Keel shmeel!Oh yes. Sweet, sweet vindication.

    Rock on, Mr. T!

  11. I think you should try writing comic materical for Leno! That is funny stuff you wrote today...

  12. You all get EXTRA parenting points for the boat. I remember the Girl Scout days. Oy.

  13. That is one awesome boat. LOVE the dragon on the sail

    My brother never finished Eagle Scout, because my dad had a stroke when my brother was 13. Now my nephew is 14 and I think he'll get to Eagle, as much for himself as for his dad.

  14. Webelos wobble, but they don't fall down! :)

  15. You sound just like my sister who hung in there with her son all the through Eagle Scouts. He loved every minute of it-- She pulled her hair out through it. But in the end it helped make my nephew a better man. I saw you on Cheaper Than Therapy awards. Love your writing!

  16. With us it was Pioneer Kids and we did the Pine Car Derby. Love those "kid" projects.

    Plus, I gave you a Lovely Blog award on my Mother's Day post because Green Girl In Wisconsin is - what else - green!

  17. Yay!!! Sometimes it takes a rebel to show them how it's done.

  18. Awesome!
    Your boy scout troop sounds scary. Parents can be so weird.

  19. Congratulations to Mr. T! And thanks for the funny, insightful story.

  20. loveitloveitloveitloveitloveit.

    I quit Brownies in my first year and Studly was never a scout. This year with a Tiger, a Bear and with me as a Den Leader, we were up to our eyeballs in scout-dom. After much thought, we have decided to cut cub scouts from next year's calendar; too much of a time requirement with the other activities we enjoy sleeping or the boys being able to play outside without worrying about earning a belt loop.

    Keep rockin' the rebel attitude!

  21. That is one fine looking boat! Bear was an avid scout, too. When it came time for Cub Scout Pinewood Derby cars, Spouse & I were mystified. We were both in 4-H (something about both our parents calling BSA fascists or something)annnnnyway, we just threw Bear a block of wood, some paint & a roll of pennies and abandoned him.

    Imagine his face when he saw kids his age w/cars that looked like the DADS had spent weeks on them. We're talking tiny whittled mufflers & steering wheels.

    Now imagine his face when his block of wood with pennies superglued to bottom came in first place! Woo-hoo! in your face!

    Seriously, BSA was great for Bear. Can't say enough nice things about his experience.


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