Tuesday, August 2, 2011

Courting Honor

Last night, we attended our sons' Boy Scout Court of Honor. This has been a bi-annual event, where they pass out merit badges, rank advancement, and special awards in the presence of friends and family.

One reason I love this event is just pure enjoyment. I have a soft spot in my heart for growing boys, and a Court of Honor is just full of the creatures, in all stages of awkward advancement. From "still a boy", to "in the midst of change", all the way to "almost a man", these boys encompass just about every stage of adolescent development. Bless their hearts!

This was Cookie Boy's first Court of Honor, which means it was the first one we attended as parents of TWO Boy Scouts. He received his first rank advancement. We are very proud of him!
A little blurry. They have to kiss Momma when they get their rank advancement!

The Young Adult has been in Boy Scouts two years now (and in Cub Scouts five years before that). He received one....yes, count it - ONE - merit badge last night. The "Reading" merit badge. I think a lot of boys there were surprised there was such a thing as a reading merit badge. I mean, they usually are in things like "Woodworking", "Hiking", "Plumbing", and "Nuclear Science". I think The Young Adult took a little ribbing for his badge.

Yet, I was very proud of him.

This badge represents a lot of things. It represents a whole year in his life. It represents the struggle between a kid who would rather never do a lick of work, and a young man who strives to do great things. It represents many lectures from his parents, on the sacrifice they make so he can be a Scout and what they expect in return. It represents the long and difficult struggle of a teenage boy to overcome his own natural sluggishness.

In two years, he has earned a total of FOUR merit badges. Most of his friends are easily into the double digits at this point. Not that it is a race, nor are we keeping score.

As we tell our oldest son, it is about seeing him develop the ability within himself to work. It is about learning how to take responsibility. It is about being accountable. It is about growing those characteristics he wants to be known for and he wants to have as a man. It is about the opportunity to learn about a wide range of things he may never get to explore again. It is about realizing that when you make a commitment to something (or someone), you "owe" them your best work.

We spent a lot of the past year over this badge. Not that it was very difficult. Rather, we spent time going over the requirements, helping him make a plan, checking up on his work (to realize it was never done), yelling, arguing, pleading, explaining, talking, listening, encouraging - and then - repeat!

We tried the hand's off approach. We tried the Encouraging Facilitator approach. We tried the "You'll-Do-This-If-It-Kills-Me" approach. Nothing seemed to work.

All the way until last week, when I asked him to get his completed materials for this badge, so he could get it all approved, and then The Young Adult could not find much of his work, and blamed me for losing it.

It was a black day in the house. I ate a LOT of chocolate, I tell you.

Well, he did find his papers, eventually, in time to get approval. But he did not tell me. He wanted to surprise me. That HE found HIS work. And HE took care of it all.

That is the really big deal about Boy Scouts. That is why it means so much to make Eagle Scout. Sure, it is all the work involved. Mostly, the work a boy has to do within himself.

So it may only have been one badge last night. But it meant a lot. It meant my 13-year-old son is learning how to handle himself.

He knows honor will not just come to him. He must carefully court honor himself.

(But I will always cheer him on!)

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