Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Sewing on Patches

I'm so glad I got my boy; I'm also glad I only got one.

I used to say this all the time when my son was little.  He was so different from my girls.  It was fun watching the world through his eyes, but it was also difficult.  He seemed to be on a search and destroy mission.  It seemed like every room he walked into was new territory to conquer.  He scanned the area for weakness and then unleashed an incredible force for one so small.  He broke more things than his four sisters combined.

Not that he was intentionally destructive, he just had a different way of exploring and discovering.  And he didn't have a natural tendency to control his strength.  He got so excited about things and ran head first into them, sometimes literally.  Then, when he saw them broken, he felt so sad.  He didn't mean to.

I can still see his little two-year old face, round, with a pouty lip.  Big tears welling up in his eyes.  Because even though he was powerful, he was tender.

Maintaining that balance has been a goal of mine.  Stay powerful, but be tender.  Sometimes it's gone well; other times, not so much.

But raising a man isn't easy -- and that's what I'm doing.  If I can remember that in the tough moments, then I can get through it.  And so can he.

I remember when he was a cub scout.  As his birthday approached, he still had a lot to do to receive his patch (whichever year, it was always the same).  We'd begin a drive to finish in time.  He'd start with energy and before long decide he didn't want to do all the work and it would be fine to just not get it this time.  But it wasn't fine for me.

My brothers didn't do much in scouting.  Neither did my husband.  There was no big family push and I had no clue what I was doing.  But I felt like it was important to finish what he started and to believe in himself.  I felt like it was important for him to learn to do hard things so that he could be proud of his efforts. 

So we'd push through.  And he'd finish just in time, sometimes yelling, crying, and fighting with me all the way.  And then, when he was done, my little boy would thank me for making him do it.  I can still see that face, too.  My grinning eight-year old smiling at me as he received his award.  An award he earned.  An award he was proud of.

There have been many times since when he wanted to quit things.  I'd be lying if I said I pushed him to finish all of them.  But I push when he's expressed a desire and then tries to back out because it's hard.  He says he wants to get his Eagle.  I will do whatever I can to make sure he follows through.

The other night I sewed his Star patch on his boy scout uniform.  This shirt is so much bigger.  He's fifteen now and practically a man.  He did so much more of the work under his own direction.  He doesn't need me as much as he used to.

But I still sew on the patches.  And I do so with honor and pride.  I am so proud of the young man he is becoming.  I want him to be proud to stand in that uniform.  As proud as I am to see him do so.

He speaks of joining the Marines one day.  There's a long time before that could happen, but I can already see it in my mind.  I'm not going to lie, if he changes his mind before then, I'm probably not going to try to talk him back into it.  The idea scares me.

But if he doesn't change his mind, I will be honored.  I will support his decision.  I will sew on patches or pin on badges as long as he will let me, until some young woman takes my place.

And I will know that I've raised a fine young man.


Rubye Jack said...

This is so touching Robin and you are so wise to not try and influence his decisions as he gets older. 15 is a difficult age for a lot of boys. I'm glad he is doing so well!

MaggieJo said...

Everyone who wonders about scouts should read this. Thanks for the vision. By the way, my first boy looks at everything as how does it work and can it become a road of some sort. Which is nice compared to David's search and destroy.

Anne said...

All parents want the best for their children, even if their dreams scare them to bits and pieces. Just as you'll be a proud mom when you do get to pin his badges, I'm sure your son will be just as proud for having you in his life.

Bonnie Atkinson said...

That was sweet. I have wondered at many of those differences between boys and girls, although I raised one search-and-destroy girl and a quiet-play-in-the-sand boy, so it's all been a crazy journey. I suppose we keep sewing on patches for them all.

Suz said...

You rock.
My kids patches are in zip lock baggies stashed in a drawer that I can never remember. I do have the baggies labeled. My first petered out. No eagle there, #2 well he is closer than the first. I am just happy that they aren't messed up with drugs and such. And that they have good values. I hate to sew on patches.

Leslie said...

What a sweet post. I hope someday to have the chance to experience having a little boy myself! Thanks for stopping by on my SITS Day!

Katy said...

Wow! What a reason to do scouts! Thanks for helping me see a glimpse of the good it can do!

Alpha Wolf said...

You hit on one of the reasons I love scouts...why I have made it clear to my bishop that I will be staying in Scouting...why I am now the Scoutmaster and loving it! Watching these boys grow and struggle and succeed.

I'm here if you need help!

Lisa said...

This post almost made me super cry a lot. I didn't because I was fresh out of tears for the day. It also made me smile. My little guy is 4 and almost 5 and I desperately want him to stop growing up. I love your line "Stay powerful, but be tender." Can I put that on some vinyl on my wall? I LOVE it. And you!

Sourire11 said...

This was a very sweet post. I look forward to someday sewing on patches for my little dude. Thanks so much for stopping by my SITS day - it's very nice to meet you!