Friday, April 08, 2005

Front End and Tail End of Parenting

Hm. Well, can't say we've ever had a baby born on our kitchen floor before. Way to go, Janiece and Josh. Welcome to the world, Isaac!

Sunday I went up to Denton after the baby was born. I arrived at First Christian Church there just as the Eagle Court of Honor for my best-friend-growing-up's sons was set to begin. Unbeknownst to me (thanks to the wonders of Microsoft-induced attachment-opening incompatibility), I was the person with the longest speaking part (scripted, but still). And it was to be amended on the spot, because of other people who had not shown.

I had not been to an Eagle Court in, I don't know, 29 years maybe. I got my Eagle early, at age 14, and by 16 I was a junior assistant -scoutmaster and on my way out. I doubt I've been to anything much since. Jonathan had a troop-killer scoutmaster, and quit after reaching First Class. The courts of honor were done in an offhand way, and none, I think, had any Eagles.

All this discussion must seem at least faintly bizarre to many of my few readers. Scouting is a huge but decidedly sub subworld. And parts of Denton are still the small Southern college town I grew up in--more like Oxford, Mississippi, than the Lewisville-like appendage of exurban distance-lovers it has become. I still addressed many of the adults there as Mr. or Mrs. or Dr. (it is, or was, a college town). Everyone was either in adult Scouter uniforms or dressed up, except city feller me, in my Vasque Orions, black jeans, and dark blue button-down.

We all recited the Scout law, although I can't properly make the Scout sign any more, because a tendon in my right pinky finger is defective in some way, and I can't hold the tip of that finger with my thumb, as the sign requires. I look (ahem) like a bishop blessing someone instead. There were probably twenty or more Eagles in the room, and you have to understand that the Dallas metro area of two or three million people generates only about two or three hundred a year. Dad and Mom were there, and Dad was undoubtedly the oldest Eagle present; I do not know how old he was, but as he was born in the late 1920s, and entered the service in mid-1944, and as Eagles typically are 16 or better, we are very likely talking someone who got their Eagle in 1940 or so.

My friend Chip had a slide show with soundtrack at the end. The old auto-advance slide method, no PowerPoint or such, with the most ancient of folding portable school filmstrip screens. He had an instrumental from Dan Fogelberg, and another piece of his, and Rod Stewart singing "Forever Young." I had not known the Fogelberg, although Chip and I both liked him in high school, and I had never paid any attention to that or any other song by Rod Stewart. But the lyrics were perfect for a graduating senior and a junior in high school finishing their Scout careers on top just as they leave home.

There were zillions of slides. Most were of unidentified groups of kids in unidentified locations doing unidentified things outdoors--one could easily glaze over. But there were well-chosen and well-placed howlers, like the troop van being hauled away by a wrecker, and kids rapelling off the tops of telephone poles just as the Fogelberg tune said something about flying away, soaring into the air. Not too surprisingly, but nicely, all this was periodically intercut with wonderful, National Geographic-quality pictures of eagles--in aeryes, plucking fish out of water, soaring, and so on. And then, to beat all, several times, the screen went dark but for a highlighted quote from Keats or Wordsworth, every one of them about beauty.

May God do worse than I care to think to me if I do not share in these next fifteen months my vision and love of beauty with my son.


Blogger Lorenloo said...

danny thinks he was 14 at his eagle scout and out at 16 as well, his dad did stuff on the court of honor too until recently (the parents got too crazy). stinks that jonathan had such a bad troop leader, though he is sort of more inside than outside kid. too bad there's not a better equivalent than girl scouts/campfire for girls like beth who rock the camping.

will you and jonathan get any good son/dad camp time in the next bit?

much love. may call tomorrow (sunday).

4:28 AM  
Blogger danny said...

Mmmm, scouting. Most of all I miss sitting around a campfire, in a place made anonymous by night, exhausted from a day of hiking or building or cleaning up cooking disasters, all of us happy together. Something about the combination of geographic isolation and sustenance labor made one so joyful at the end of the day and the friendships were so different than any others I've ever had. They weren't based on any axis of commonality; they were based on the fact that I cooked your food, and you found my firewood, and he(1) cleaned our dishes, and he(2) set up our tents while he(3) set the bearbag,and, yes, he(4) went and argued our patrol's case in the campsite dispute before the scoutmaster (all equally important tasks). The friendship of mutual dependence and trust. And I ran away as quick as I could.

12:32 AM  
Blogger danny said...

Oh, and for old time's sake,


ah for the categorical imperatives of youth...

12:39 AM  
Blogger Curran said...

The power of the father/son, man/boy bond is unbelievable. I am amazingly glad to hear of organizations succeeding in nourishing it. Sadly, my brief stint with the Scouts started and ended in one semester when I was eight or nine. Our troup was run by two mothers whose biggest activity during my few months there was to attempt to demonstrate how to pull a nail out of a block of wood. (failed)

The real fun started with just a group of us guys running off into the woods at night. Secret night military manuevors never get tiring no matter how old you are. I hope I'm not alone in these sentiments. And, don't forget the bacon and cans of beans! oh yeah. Just remember to bring an actual can opener so you don't spend four hours with a shurikin trying to open the can. ;)

11:07 PM  
Blogger some chick said...

In first grade we could sign up for either the Girl Scouts or the Boy Scouts. I wanted to be a Boy Scout, but they wouldn't let me. I was very disappointed. My rebellion started early, apparently.

8:09 AM  

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