Hi, I’m Rachel & I’m the Worst Boy Scout Mom Ever

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It was in elementary school when I decided I wanted to be a tap dancer. And bless my parents, but they went along with it and before I knew it, we showed up in what was essentially a log cabin in Del City, Oklahoma, on a cold winter’s night for hour long lesson by a 60-year-old chain-smoking bouffant-haired dancer with a too-tight leotard that showed body parts I didn’t even know existed at this point. (I’m going somewhere with this). BUT! There were COSTUMES. Magnificent, spangled creations glittering in photographs hanging on the studio walls of fellow dancers in recital attire. YES. THIS WAS MY DESTINY. Anyway, after 3 weeks, my mom casually mentioned that perhaps I would be interested in buying that Barbie thingamajig I wanted so bad? Except … maybe in return, we would stop tap lessons. I took the bait, but begged to keep the costume. Because HELLO – it’s all about the costume!

So. Fast forward, oh, 27 years.

Bless Jude Shingleton’s heart. He was born for all things manly and masculine and adventurous. Shooting? Yes. Archery? Absolutely. Climbing? Why not? Helping elderly ladies cross the street? Yes. Rescuing people from a burning building? It’s on the bucket list.

(It’s probably unfortunate that he has the least manly dog ever in Nickels, the somewhat neurotic Chihuahua. Jude keeps asking when Nickels is going to get any bigger.  #blessit)

So why on earth wouldn’t Jude think that he absolutely should be a Boy Scout? As a first grader, he begged to be one, thanks to all his buddies who were also scouting in the group that meets right after school. At the time, I was Great With Child and couldn’t fathom doing one more thing. Much less anything involving outdoorsiness. No no no.

And who are we kidding? Do I look like an outdoorsy person? NO! But then, in a tsunami of postpartum new mom guilt, I somehow succumbed to The Lure of the Boy Scouts once school began last August. I’m already friends with most of the moms and loved all the boys who were a part of it.

YES, I confidently announced to Simon Shingleton.  YES, WE WILL DO THIS. JUDE WILL JOIN THE LEGION OF THE SCOUTING BOYS.

Simon looks skeptical. “We are not outdoorsy,” he reminds me, haltingly, perhaps recognizing my postpartum cray-face.

“I really don’t think it’s about being outdoorsy!” I stupidly hormonally proclaimed (spoiler: yes it is)

Thus, Jude and I made the Ritual Journey to the Boy Scout shop here in town where we were greeted by an extremely, erm,  efficient-looking older Scoutress in full beige regalia who smartly and militantly guided us through the selection process of all the gear Jude needed. Internet, it was at this first encounter where I had the fleeting thought that “Perhaps these are not my people.”

This is me:



Jude is happily dashing around as if it were Target (“Look at this cool patch! CAN WE BUY ALL THESE?!” Me: “Hush, dearest!”) Cargo pants with tearaway legs? Check. Oversized shirt that comes down to Jude’s knees (so that we might grow into it over the years for maximum efficiency because duh)? Check. Bandana? Check. Bandana fob things that we will undoubtedly lose in the first week that my sister wisely counseled me to purchase multiples of? Check check check check.

And thus, Jude’s scouting journey began. And as the months progressed, I began to fade. Maybe it was the cumulative lack of sleep (um, Archer is only just now – 17 months in – sleeping through the night. I pretty much zombie-d all through Jude’s 2nd grade year. It’s a miracle we’re all alive) or maybe it was the general overwhelm of navigating having two kids, but I pretty much felt like this by midway thru the year:

troop beverly hills

Patches were earned, and haphazardly sewn on (subsequently falling off). Then I discovered this super special tacky glue paper that’s supposed to bond it to the uniform. One wash in the machine later, and patches were firmly bonded to the inside of the washing machine.  We didn’t make it to any campouts (does staying at our house at Carlton Landing count? Because if so, we are WINNING.  Right???). Events were scheduled but then missed. I may or may not have googled pre-made pinewood derby cars (FROWNED UPON!) and then skipped it all together.  And by the end of the schoolyear, we were limping towards the finish line.

But by this point for Jude, he was less and less inclined to attend. And I started to realize that perhaps I wouldn’t have to bribe him – AHEM – to quit.  “Mom, I don’t think I want to be a scout next year,” he sagely remarked one day after school. I was surprised. What’s the problem?

And after a brief discussion, I realized that perhaps the apple doesn’t fall very far from the tree. Because the thrill of being a scout was all wrapped up solely in the costume uniform. And that is just fine with me.

But no, Jude, we will not go back to the boy scout shop and buy all the patches. But nice try, kid.


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