I was a horrible Boy Scout, among The Worst Scouts of All Time according to some pundits. To wit: I never earned so much as one merit badge. Over the course of my Scouting career, I ascended to the rank of Second Class, which I think in those days required that you show up to a meeting and recite from memory the Scout Motto (“Be Prepared”). Second-class indeed. More like Low-class Scout if you ask me.
So you cannot begin to calculate the magnitude of my stupefaction over the fact that my very own son, Seth, has become an Eagle Scout. It’s an occurrence that seems simply impossible. If you’re anything like me (and I pray that you aren’t), your first thought on hearing that news is: Excuse me?
And yet it’s true, due in no small part to the excellent leadership of adults who are quite decidedly Not His Parents. He has been blessed with the inspired influence of several talented men who have provided him the instruction and good example that his father never could have. His Scoutmaster, Warren Owens, has set high standards for him and his fellow Scouts and expected them to live up to those standards. Since Seth became a Boy Scout at 11, Warren and others have taught him, coached him, tolerated and disciplined him, devoting time and attention and love to him as if he were one their own sons.
And then, to his credit, Seth has added to that good influence his own motivation to achieve. Case in point: To reach this rank, Seth has earned nearly 30 merit badges (whose son is this?). For his final project, he raised over $10,000 which he used to rebuild the bald eagle exhibit at the Santa Ana Zoo. You should go there and check it out, reminding yourself as you gawk that the work was organized and directed by a 14-year-old. Remarkable.
I’m reminded of the helpless feeling that Dana and I had when we brought our firstborn, Luke, home from the hospital for the first time. There was no owner’s manual, no service contract. There are more detailed instructions on a bottle of shampoo than you get when you bring home an infant. I remember all too well those first panic-filled weeks of parenthood. How do you hold this thing? What does that cry mean? Who would entrust us with something so fragile? I was fairly certain that we were going to break that little thing. (In fact we did: Luke’s leg was in a cast before he had learned to walk. But that’s a story for another time.)
We prayed hard in those days that our ignorant efforts might be supplemented by a steady dose of Divine Intervention: Heavenly Father, watch over our son. Keep him safe from harm and illness. Help him to be happy, and bless him with just enough success and sufficient opportunity that he may live up to his divine potential. Please don’t let our poor parenting be a detriment to him in any way, today or tomorrow or later in life. And when he is not with us, please send angels to watch over and protect him and show him the way.
It’s a prayer we have offered in some form for each of our children every day of their lives. A prayer that has been answered many times over by people such as Warren Owens. Angels. Sent from God. In answer to the heartfelt pleading of two parents in way over their heads.