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.