Every Boy Scout knows the Scout Law like the back of his hand (and can recite it so fast it sounds like one word):
A Scout is trustworthy, loyal, helpful, friendly, courteous, kind, obedient, cheerful, thrifty, brave, clean, and reverent.
Although it wouldn’t flow trippingly off the tongue, I think after “clean” should come really, we mean it. And thrown in somewhere should be:
Awkward. Really, really awkward.
I don’t suggest this to poke fun, I’m truly being sympathetic. Being 13-ish is tough and it shows. I remember my own middle school experience and it was no fun, but on the same token it still was. Mixing “suicides” (a burst of each soda flavor for a nasty undrinkable potion) while manning the concessions at basketball games. Giggling about “dickies” (mock sweaters, just to be clear), which we wore under our (purple) jazz band blazers then exchanging them for neon pink neckties. What cool rebels we were. And then there was the whispering about who was “going with” whom. There were times when middle school was a blast. But we were never weird or awkward, were we? Well, fast forward a few decades later and enter a Boy Scout meeting to be faced with loud, cracking voices and a sea of gawky long limbs resembling a deranged armpit-farting uber-octopus, and then realize that
Yes, yes we were.
So I empathize and sympathize, as I sit in a church pew during a Boy Scout Court of Honor, feeling every bit of the awkwardness emanating from the foot-shifting emerging adult before us emceeing the event. This sweet, brave boy. He stammers, he stutters. He, to his credit, pauses, admitting he has forgotten what comes next and consults his script. Then he looks up with a bright look of realization and says,
Now we invite you to join us for treats in the back of the church.
Yes, that’s how nervous this young man was…he forgot about the food. Or at least how to say there was food. Perhaps through his self-consciousness he managed to have the presence of mind to realize he had to say something more refined than:
Whew, we’re finally done. Let’s go eat!
Although I’d wager money that’s exactly what was going through his mind.
But the highlight of the evening was my own dear son. He is the poster boy for awkward. His voice is starting to change, he has pimples, and in exchange for being all hat and diaper as a barely-five pound newborn, he is now all arms and legs. And it doesn’t help he stands two heads taller than many of the boys his age. So he’s hard to miss in most situations. But put him in front of a group and, well, read on.
My son earned a rank advancement that night becoming, officially, a Scout. Because this is an important achievement on the path to Eagle Scout, this involves escorting Mom to the front of the sanctuary and presenting her with a mother’s pin that symbolizes the rank he achieved. It’s super sweet. It’s also super embarrassing for a boy to pay Mom this kind of attention in front of his comrades. (Even though all Boy Scouts do this at one time or another.) So my son wanted to get this over with as quickly as possible.
Which, of course, means the ordeal gets strung out as long as possible.
In his haste, bent toward me (yes, he’s taller than me, too), he fumbles with the pin, pulls the back from the front, and promptly drops the back
down my shirt.
Oh, yes. Yes he did.
Now I’m well beyond being embarrassed in situations like these (thank God) which I like to think helped my son’s total mortification. But I’m sure this is a total delusion on my part. He’s justifiably flustered, trying to figure out what to do next. So he decides to try lifting the hem of my top in order to find the back of the pin. I’m relieved he doesn’t try to look down from the top, and even more thankful my finely-honed mom reflexes keep him from exposing skin. In what I think is total reassurance I whisper to my son:
Nope, it’s ok…I got this.
I’m sorry, what? So much for my staying calm, cool and collected with an unintelligible statement, tongue-tied like a teen. I may as well have been speaking Klingon.
There’s a murmur of chuckles from the pews. Then, my son whispers in panic, pointing to my chest:
But it went. Down. Your shirt!
More, slightly louder chuckles from the pews. I manage (in English) to reassure my reddening son that I will find the back when I sit down, and he can simply place the pin through my top (from the front) and that will work just fine. He does it and escorts me back to my seat, to a supportive applause from the other parents and Scouts.
Thankfully my son doesn’t dwell on awkward moments; he lets things roll off his back pretty easily (I think). A good quality, really. And his brother and sister, the two kids most likely to torture him about what happened, didn’t seem to notice. So it’s doubtful his buddies did either.
Awkward under the radar.
Under the peer radar, that is. The adults noticed, but we have better attention spans and are also honed in to pre-pubescent fumbles and foibles. Because we’ve been there. We know it’s tough growing up and want our children to weather the transformation in a supportive, learning environment. And Boy Scouts has the potential to provide that. Awkward happens but something is gleaned in the process. And that something is not shame or embarrassment; it is what to do differently the next time. And even though Mom may share some of the goofs on her blog, she only does it with the most sincere empathy and understanding, and knows her readers feel the same.
And don’t worry, kiddo, I’m saving the really embarrassing stuff for your wedding…