Wednesday, November 9, 2016

Election Day Thoughts...

Sixteen years ago the newspaper headlines read "Waiting for Florida" as the Nation combed over pregnant, hanging chads, recounting votes in Broward County, Florida.  Twelve hundred miles away, my parents also were "Waiting On Florida", and their pregnant daughter in Broward county, who had been in labor with their first grandchild for the last 32 hours.

In his baby book, on the pre-printed pages that record what was happening the day he was born, I wrote the words, we have no idea to complete the line "The President is...".  Folded away in the book is the front page of the paper with the aforementioned headline.  Oldest was born into political controversy, amidst talk of rigged elections, and politicians that just don't know when to quit.  Sound familiar? All of this, during what was ironically, the most stress free time of my marriage.

It all fell to hell a few months later of course, both the marriage and the country.  Ten months later were the terror attacks on NYC, rolling into countless endless wars, recessions, national debt crisis, and politicians acting like spoiled toddlers, refusing to uphold the constitution because someone looked at them funny on the playground.

I don't think anyone was happy about the choices this year.  The candidates, all of them, were heavily flawed.  But here's the thing.  Regardless of who won, nothing was going to change.

Nothing ever changes.

The country is virtually deadlocked in polarity.  Those who voted Clinton wanted establishment, a shattered ceiling, and/or the status quo.  Those who voted Trump wanted an overhaul of the whole system, supreme court justices, and/or vindication for their own private beliefs said behind closed doors.  And, those that voted otherwise either couldn't bring themselves to vote for the two front runners, or actually believed they had the best candidate.

Regardless of the reasoning, nothing will change.  And how do I know this?  Because nothing ever changes.  There are 500+ other people in charge who make sure that nothing. ever. changes. And if, on the off chance it does, in four years or so, it will change back.  Regardless of what judge gets appointed, what law gets speedily passed through, Congress will swing and it will return to the status quo.

I sit here today hopeful that this new elect will ultimately land in the middle.  That he will get none of the promises/threats that his campaigning boasted of, and rather meet at a point of compromise that doesn't send women back to the stone age, or land us in a war so horrific that they reenact the draft. He has, of course, changed his position on virtually everything, even taking his own words and quickly contorting them or just dismissing them as being sarcastic. I am hopeful that the wacko-extremists on the right won't get their way, and that the hippie-extremists on the left won't be correct in their doomsday predictions.  That we will somehow, as a country, land somewhere in the middle. But the truth is, those that hated during this election will still hate.  Those that gloat, will still gloat. And those that believed that women should be seen (only if their attractive) and not heard (unless they have a good singing voice) will still feel that way.  Because the President doesn't change that about our country, WE change that about our country.  And clearly, we are not ready for that kind of change.

But if on the off chance this country does change it's mind, we get a do-over on November 3rd, 2020.  By then, both Oldest and Youngest will exercise their right, whether it be for Red, Blue, Orange, or Kanye. I'd like to say that it will be different then.  That it will be better.  That we will have less of the right and left and more of  a scenic one lane country road.  But in the end, I will not  be surprised if nothing actually changes that election day either.

Unless of course, you're speaking of that election day sixteen years ago.

That election day, everything in my life, in my little country, changed forever.

Sunday, November 6, 2016

Backing Away...Slowly...

The boy and his gear spilled through the front door around 6 pm. Heaps of fabric, a cooler sans lid, a tent magically folded back into it's carrying case, all reeking of sweat, dirt, and camp fire.  As it headed to the wash, and the boy to the shower, I breathed a huge sigh of relief as yet another camp out was done.

Scouts has been a huge part of Youngest's life.  He has formed friendships with people he would otherwise never know.  He has learned skills.  He has had adventures without me, and has gained an independence that I could have never given him.

It has also however, been a huge part of my life.  The week before my birthday last year there was a huge blow out with one of the parents and the Committee Chair.  She abruptly quit and since I was one of the very few already taking responsibility within the Troop, all of her tasks, which were many, fell to me.  And while I have given off many of them, the largest of the tasks, Committee Chair and Advancement, still are in my lap.

And from that point on, I was all in.  I spend 20 hours a week maintaining, updating, and planning Scout activities.  Watching the boys go from unfocused, ping pong balls of energy, to planners, leaders, and examples of great men is one of my greatest rewards.  I would not trade that for anything and I feel like, to some extent, they are all my kids.  I want them all to succeed, to go on to become Eagles, and make a difference in their community.  I want them all to be able to get every experience they want from Scouts, whether it be forging knives, whitewater rafting Class 4 and 5 rapids, or shooting a .5 caliber muzzle load rifle.

So it's no wonder that I have long insisted that Youngest squeeze every bit he can from Scouts.  And he has, up to now, without question.  He is now a Star Scout, well on his way to Life, when he will then start his Eagle project and inevitably make the rank.  He has several Eagle projects in mind, with one specifically high on the list, and has started to think of what he will need to put into it, as well as who he will need to work with to get it done.  He has only one required badge left to finish, and actually has finished it, but refuses to hand it in.

Which makes me crazy.

Youngest is a tough nut to crack.  It's taken me 6 months to get him to explain that he doesn't want to pass it in because then he feels like he won't have anything else to do.  I also think he doesn't want to pull too far ahead of his friends.  We fight a lot about Scouts now a days, weather he needs a uniform that night, his role in the Troop, if he really needs to be a Patrol Leader. *Sigh* It's exhausting.

And then, the other day, I had just had enough.  I was rushing around to get to the meeting, trying to coordinate this and that, answering the 15th email regarding something I can't remember, and I was just.... done.  The truth is I don't care if he makes Eagle.  At the end of the day, he has to care.  He has to want it.  A parent commented this weekend about "The next camp out you plan", to which I replied, "Dude, this is the last one I'm planning this year."  And it is.  The May camp out is all his.  The April one someone else's, January falls on our snow camping guy, and June/July are up for grabs.  It's got to somehow start coming together without me.  It will, but not if I don't let it go.

I am done. I want out before I burn out completely.  I want t just sit back, watch him grow, help out on an Eagle or two and enjoy the last 18 months of Youngest's Scouting career.  I want to pick and choose what I'm involved in, not spend my Sunday nights sending out Troop updates and fielding emails of accumulated service hours and partial requirements.  I want to paddle down a river in New Hampshire, in the middle of June, soaking in the sunlight, not mentally taking attendance and dreading the paperwork at the end of the weekend.  I want to not resent the smell of sweat and camp fire as it falls into a heap on the living room floor alongside an exhausted boy.

I don't think that makes me terrible.  I don't feel like I'm abandoning the Troop or leaving any of the boys out on a limb.  And while others may have a different opinion on it, I just can't care any more.

The Troop will be fine.

Youngest will be fine.  He will make Eagle if he wants it enough.

I will finally be able to actually enjoy the camp fire, without all the headache that goes along with it.

Right?