Arlo is almost ten and as of now he's really only every been officially signed up to Little League. We pushed him towards it when he was four and then came back to it a couple years later when he requested to try it out again. On his own accord.
Certainly though, we weren't quite cut out for the ways of strict sports responsibilities. We were late a lot of times to practice, and generally unconcerned with any of the regular politics that seem to always want to poison the essence of junior sporting teams. Worst of all we stupidly assumed the boys were all out there simply to have fun when really it became very clear they were there to win a game. Apparent breeding ground for early competitiveness which neither Mike nor myself, have ever had much experience with. I wasn't the least bit involved in athletics as a kid and Mike, maybe slightly less so. So the win or stomp mentality, I guess we just did not get.
Regardless, skating and surfing has served as a convenient replacement to all that. In that it still gets us all out of the house, and physical, but with a loosened sense of competition inherent in singular sports. So we were there on the beach when and where we pleased, while he was out in the water getting stronger, growing more confident by the day. Or in parks shredding around concrete bowls all the way from Menifee to San Luis Obisbo because whenever we were out and about and a skate park was near we made the effort to keep up interest and momentum by making it both fun and regular.
Yet when I started to wonder what the other boys might be interested in I realized I hadn't put much thought into just how diverse their involvements might look. While Rex is still happy to shadow most all of Arlo's interests (when it suits him, anyway) Leon will most likely never request a little league try out. Or dare attempt a diving board, let alone a surf session. Any time soon.
Which is where scouts came in seeing that it's the only thing I could think of Leon fitting in and building confidence in by offering up what he's intrigued by - an array of crafty handiwork (which is where he is most content) in combo with plenty of outdoor adventure, and a healthy introduction into good old fashioned lone survival skills. All aspects I figured he would come to appreciate. And so far, it seems to be a fair call.
With both of the boys settled in packs now we have a combined Tiger and Weblo meeting at the Local Methodist once a week. This past weekend I dropped in on their first den camp out and got to watch them learn the ropes of fresh water fishing, ease into extended hiking, craft, and put together their own personal first aid pack kits. What I missed was the deep fried Oreos, the awkward fire side comedy skits, the Sunday morning prayer session and the scolding Mike got for getting caught drinking a beer that the Scout leader's father in law insisted he have.
And sure, there are countless new rules and guidelines to adhere to and parts of if that seem undeniably outdated and corny from our view. And absolutely we're paired with people we might not otherwise be easily connected to, but that's all part of the involvement at this age. In this, a next phase of parenthood. So we suck it up, put on the ugly tee shirt and get there on time on days where it feels impossible. With uniforms on straight. Memorizing the first pages of the Boy Scout oath, praying when they pray, and refusing all the old man's beer cans even when it's miserably hot out and he cracks it open with a smile as he hands it over. Because hopefully down the line it all pays off. And if we ever find ourselves wandering around remote parts of the woods fingers crossed one of these kids will have the skill and confidence to pull us out. Or at the very least, construct whatever smoke signals it takes to warrant swift rescue from above.
Either way, we're now officially part of the pack.