Monday, January 25, 2010

A Klondike Victory

A man far wiser than I told me that my oldest son is getting to an age where he is going to stop listening to mom and dad. He went on to say that it is our job to surround our son with adults who share our values, because the boy is going to listen to them. I am seeing elements of this taking place, which is just one reason why I am grateful that we found a very good church community that we joined two years ago and an excellent scouting troop. The people running each organization have had a strong, positive impact on General Mayhem.

It didn’t surprise me that General Mayhem’s Boy Scout Patrol took first place at the Klondike this past weekend. Of all the troops competing in this regional event, his was the fastest and most accurate in sledding, orienteering, first aid, and fire starting. For their efforts, the General’s patrol won a brand new cast iron Dutch oven, a lid lifter, and a new set of fire gloves. It was a true team effort, organized and led by my son. This was also his very first campout as the patrol leader for the Black Pythons.

Just three months ago the General was an assistant patrol leader leading the patrol while their patrol leader skipped two consecutive campouts. After each campout, the General observed how difficult it was to be a patrol leader, and commented on how tired he was. He gave no indication that he was interested in holding a leadership position. Earlier this month, he returned home from his first Boy Scout meeting of the New Year and waved his “patrol leader” badge. The old leader had stepped down. General Mayhem was voted to the open position. The General’s choice for his assistant patrol leader was a good kid, a nice young man who is polite, friendly, takes his responsibilities seriously and still knows how to have a good time. I was impressed with his wise choice for an assistant patrol leader. I told him so.

It is obvious that my son is being well trained by the adult leaders in his troop, by the senior patrol leaders and the patrol leader who recently stepped down. It is equally obvious that the last two years in scouting hasn’t simply been play time for him, although there has been plenty of that. I think I even saw some organization and planning employed for the Klondike that we have been trying to teach the young man but he has been resisting at every turn. His intrinsic motivation kicked in. He did this for himself and for his patrol. He did it very well.

My son never shared with me the fact that he was seriously considering the leadership position that he now holds. He never asked for any help while he prepared for the Klondike, although I was aware of what he was practicing at home. He didn’t say much to me after he won. He was very quiet in the car on the way home. Once he returned home he chatted endlessly about the entire event with his mother, and only then did he finally open up and share with me his enthusiasm for his journeyman victory. And in a very pleasant development, the General cleaned and stowed his gear after we returned home without a word of complaint. He even helped straighten the garage and move boxes to the attic.

I had to double check to make sure that I brought the correct kid home from the Klondike.

I would be lying if I wrote that this change to our relationship doesn’t bother me just a little. Part of the reason for his reticence may be conversations or conflicts that we have had in the past. Part of the reason for his reserve is his innate personality. I think that the biggest reason for his taciturnity is the fact that he is trying to establish his manhood separate from his father. He’s carving his own path, seeking neither permission for nor advice from me for these choices that he has made.

Dad needs to take a big gulp and adjust to this change. I need to step back far enough to allow the young man to mature as nature intends while remaining close enough to offer needed guidance. It’s a delicate balance. And I am entirely unprepared for this new development in parenting. I’m proud of him. I let him know it. For now, that will do.

10 comments:

therextras said...

Both you and the General get a WOW from me! He did well, and so did you. Barbara

TobyBo said...

Wow! is right. But I am afraid things around your place are in danger of becoming boring.

Papa Bear said...

Can I send my son to his troop? Please?

CrossView said...

Congrats to the General! Awesome!

It always kicks me in the gut to realize that our job as parents is to work ourselves out of a job.

experienced mom said...

You are right, We also prayed for "?allies" in our parenting role to influence our two sons when they resisted us in those teen years. These are exciting times in your home. Now our sons are in their thirties we are a very close family and they are mature, responsible and godly you men, husbands and one is the father of our 4 wonderful grandchildren. Yes, we as parents work ourselves out of our job, going from dependent kids to responsible independent adults. Praise the Lord for a job in process and going well.

experienced mom said...

You are right, We also prayed for "?allies" in our parenting role to influence our two sons when they resisted us in those teen years. These are exciting times in your home. Now our sons are in their thirties we are a very close family and they are mature, responsible and godly you men, husbands and one is the father of our 4 wonderful grandchildren. Yes, we as parents work ourselves out of our job, going from dependent kids to responsible independent adults. Praise the Lord for a job in process and going well.

Big Doofus (Roger) said...

My 16-year-old is not interested in my advice when he initially hears it. Sadly, he wants to jump into his mistakes head on. I think that this is just the way it is with teens. There really is something going on in their brain at this time that causes them to act like this. I've been blessed to have a great youth director at our church that I can talk to and that my son looks up to quite a bit.

Teacher Mommy said...

I don't know if I'm terrified or jealous of that sort of independence. A bit of both. Something to think about for my own sons...

Oklahoma Granny said...

Congratulations to the General on a job well done and to his very wise dad for recognizing what that fine young man truly needs.

Kathleen said...

A mixture of Awww... and Wow! from me. Congrats to the General. I love posts like this because you're a little ahead of me in the whole my-boys-are-growing-into-men stage. I'm a little afraid of that stage, so I enjoy learning from you!