Wednesday, October 1, 2008

Boys Must Be Boys

First off, I'm still waiting for my Obama t-shirt from Seriously, how much longer must I wait????

Secondly, this popped up on Etsy's homepage today and I nearly keeled over from its cuteness:

It's so cute I could eat my toes.

In other news, I started working on a lap quilt last night that is really turning out to be more of a crib quilt. It's adorable, and I think quilting is just about the easiest thing ever. And it's fun.

The only thing that bugs me is the fact that my sewing machine is no longer in a common area. In my apartment, I had it set up in the dining room, since it was part of the open plan in the front of the house. I could watch TV, hang out with the kids, and sew. In our new space, I'm afforded the luxury of a craft room/yoga studio/study. It's awesome to have the extra space, but it's also a little isolating. At the same time, it's nice to focus on sewing and nothing else while doing it. I tend to sew on nights when Ian's at work and the kids are in bed, falling alseep to the tack-tack-tack of the machine as I work away.

On such nights I occasionally overhear their bedtime conversation, which is simply adorable and often hilarious. Since we've recently imposed a No New Toys Until Christmas rule around the house (trust me, they are not lacking), the kids spend their downtime before sleep talking about which toys they'll each ask for this Christmas so that they can both get all the toys they want. In the darkness, their little voices are clear and direct. Usually Nolan does all the talking on this particular subject: "Seany, you'll get the Lego AT-ST and I'll get the AT-AT."

They also talk about their day at school, their friends, and the games they play at home. Sean is way into board games, in addition to all things Lego. He also likes to ride his bike and his scooter. Although he skateboards with his father, frequenting skateparks and skateshops, he recently admitted to me that he prefers his scooter. This was interesting to me, since just a week prior he told his dad that he no longer wants to play soccer. He prefers baseball and tae kwon do.

His dad wasn't thrilled. He loves soccer and skateboarding. The fact that Sean is moving away from these two activities intrigues me. It could be that he doesn't want to do the things he father is so insistent upon him doing. Or it could be that he really just prefers baseball and scootering. And let's remember: The kid is SIX YEARS OLD. He has plenty of time to cultivate his interests.

Most parents like their children's interests to be an extension of their own ego or experience (or perceived deprivations) as children, some much more so than others (and those parents creep me out). While I think it would be great if Sean continued to play soccer, I think who he is as a person with his own intersts is pretty awesome regardless. All of this culminated in a recent discussion between me and my ex-husband, when Sean expressed a sincere interest in joining Cub Scouts.

"Cub Scouts?" Keith asked. "I don't know...."

"What the hell is wrong with scouting?" I asked. "The politics of the organization aside, he's going to learn some awesome lessons as a scout. Besides, the kid is all about the merit badges. He's dying to earn some. HE'S SIX YEARS OLD."

"I dunno," he said. "Maybe I've watched too much Saturday Night Live to be excited about him joining the scouts."

"Ha! Fair enough. But seriously, didn't you ever do scouts?"


Did I miss something in all our years together? My question and his answer explained a whole lot about a whole lotta things. (I was a Brownie and a Girl Scout, even winning an essay award to become "Mayor for the Day" of East Haven. Oh, Lordy. That's another blog for another day.)

"Well, lots of guys we know were scouts--like Ian, Craig, Kirk...lots of guys who are very self-reliant, have lots of outdoor skills, and of course know how to tie knots."


"Keith, he really wants to do it, and I'm going to sign him up for it. It will be good for him to be a part of a group of boys his own age, learning about teamwork and life skills and doing activities that give back to the community, all without a coach shouting in his ear. He has enough of that already."

"Okay, okay. I want to go with him to some meetings, though."

"Duh. You should."

So Sean signed up, and of course he loves it. Keith brought him to a recent meeting and afterward admitted that the den leaders were very cool and there didn't seem to be a Ned Flanders in the bunch.

But I understood his concerns. Besides, you don't want your kids to be unpopular, and scouting is considered by some to be uncool. At a recent party, I ran into some friends who have three children, all of whom are exceptionally "cool" kids. The parents--also "cool"--are mutual friends of my friends and Ian's friends. Weird how that works sometimes.

As we drank PBR in back yard, the dad said, "We just signed Reilly up for Tiger Scouts. I wasn't so sure about it at first--and there are some definite Trekkies in the bunch--but I'm glad we did it. He loves it."

"We just signed Sean up! Same thing for us; Sean's dad wasn't all that keen on it, but now he gets it."

"Cool. I was a scout, so I know the benefits of it. I'm glad Reilly's into it, because he's going to learn a lot and not even realize it."

Reilly and Sean were hanging out on the half-pipe in our friend Kevin's yard, where all the parents were imbibing at a two-year-old's birthday party.

"Hey, Sean," I yelled to him. "Reilly just started Tiger Scouts, too."

"Cool!" They high-fived each other and continued to drop in off the ramp--on their stomachs.

Kids need to be kids. And boys especially need to be involved in activities that encourage them to be aware of--and confident in--the world around them. They need to learn how to be men without someone always shrieking at them from the sidelines. I'm not slagging sports. Kids need them and learn a whole lot from them. But scouting gives Sean a chance off the field to learn valuable lessons, too: to be sensitive to nature and the environment; to work with others; to give back; to believe in yourself and encourage others to believe in themselves. And in scouting, no one gets benched. If Sean does scouting for two years or ten, he's going to benefit from it. At the very least, he'll have some awesome pinewood derby memories.

As for being cool, at the first scout meeting the den leader was trying to make a point involving something circular, and he asked the kids if anyone knew what a record player was. He started to laugh because none of the kids spoke up--until Sean surprised him and said, "I know what they are. We have one at home and we have one at daddy's house. You play big records on them to hear music, and you have to put the little arm thingie with the needle thingie on it so that the music will play. It's like a CD, only it's big and black."

You tell 'em, Vulcan.


Sheryl said...

Sean and Nolan are like little Montessori thinkers, ready to lead instead of follow. I love it.

You bring up a lot of good points, some that I'm all too familiar with. I see lots of kids who are involved in a million activities. Their parents rush around every minute of the day complaining about how busy they are and the kids look miserable the whole time. And when you ask the kids what they really want to do, most times they say that they'd just like to hang out in the back yard with their parents because they never get to do it. I'm not saying all activities are evil, I just sometimes wonder if it's really all for the kids and how healthy all that running around is.

I can't say enough good things about scouts. And even if, one day down the road, Sean decides that he's not into it anymore, I'm glad he'll have had the opportunity to experience it. It's so important that children get out there in the world and see that it's bigger than them. Bigger than their possessions. That not everyone and everything are the same.

Well look at that - I guess I had a lot to say. Just my 2 cents, I suppose. I miss you guys. Sounds like everything is going well - very happy to read all about it!

Milk Money said...

Your comments are highly valued, teacher! How goes it, Miss Sheryl? On break?

I miss you, too! When are you headed up this way again??

lots of love,

Renee said...

I think that's awesome Sean's a cub scout! I keep with me some great memories of Girl Scout camp, so I'm sure he's going to LOVE it.

Milk Money said...

Seriously. Me, too. I was so stoked every time I earned a badge.