I just watched three of my babies (granted, one of them towers over me, but still…) head off to Boy Scout camp for a week in the woods several hours away from home.
It is a week of biting bugs, notoriously bad weather (no matter what week they choose), stinky port-o-potties and camaraderie and merit badge advancement that makes it all worthwhile!
But already it has not been without its struggles.
Matt’s decision to go to Boy Scout camp wasn’t too difficult; he simply wondered whether he should stay home and work or go to the more challenging “High Adventure” camp with the older Scouts, but Boy Scout camp is the best place to get several merit badges checked accomplished quickly and, since he is hoping to get Eagle Scout in the next 18 months, he decided to go to Boy Scout Camp.
George was super excited about Boy Scout camp. He was looking forward to more independence, and he’s a kid who really Loves the outdoors. He had listened to the stories of his older brothers going to camp and was looking forward to his having his own adventures. He was also hoping to get a bunch of merit badges checked off and catch up to where he should be as a 13 year old Scout. He was the most grateful of all of us for the anonymous gift, Boy Scout camp that provided the opportunity for my boys to go to camp this year!
And then there’s “little” Noah.
Noah is my home body. He likes to stay with me (or maybe he just likes to stay home and I pretend he likes to stay with me 😉 ), but he had made the decision to go to Boy Scout camp on his own and had been looking forward to it, not as much as George perhaps, but he really had been kind of excited about going.
Even with activities he likes though, Noah can give me a hard time when time comes to actually going so I wasn’t surprised when, as the date for camp got closer, he decided camp was “stupid,” a favorite word of his. He’s brand new to the Troop and still my Baby in many ways, so his reluctance (putting it mildly) was making it hard for me to send him, but he had given his word and in our house, once you give your word, you follow through.
A Man’s Word is Gold.
Just as it is for a Woman’s Word
Added to this battle is the boys’ father who is now very anti-Scouting, and despite his not having to pay for the trip or any Scout related expenses, despite his knowing they were going on this date for several months, he told them three days ago that they would not be able to go with the other Scouts because it was his weekend.
The day he told them they could not go was the day I’d had him served with family court papers for custody violations. He wanted to make me drive the 8+ hours round trip.
What many parents fail to realize is that
by trying to punish the other parent,
you are really punishing or hurting
Putting children in the middle of your divorce battle
is never okay.
I don’t post about the day to day stuff that goes on behind the scenes with my ex. He really is such a small part of my life, and I’d rather focus on divorce recovery and the healing God’s Grace can give rather than on the foolish battles he imposes on us. I believe my ex must justify his actions by portraying me badly to others but most of all to justify his actions to himself.
As I’ve said before, we are not responsible for the thoughts or actions of those around us – even of those we Love.
But as parents, we are responsible for protecting our children and, when custody violations appear continuously, they must be addressed. When they cannot be addressed by the adults involved, they must be brought to family court.
But they should not put children in the middle.
The boys were, to say the least, disappointed that they would not go to camp with their friends. I tried to work out alternative plans, to give the boys’ father as much time as possible with them on his weekend. I tried to arrange alternative meeting times and places.
He wouldn’t hear of it. It was his way or no way.
I didn’t talk to the boys about the text messages I was sending or how I was trying to work things out. They didn’t need to know.
I guess they felt the same way about me because, I found out later that they had also been texting their father trying to work out alternative plans.
Unfortunately, he remained unmoved, demanding they go with him because it was his weekend.
I didn’t say anything. It is so hard to be the mom, to love these kids so much, to see the struggles they are going through with a father whom they love but who continuously puts them in difficult situations, and not say anything.
But this had to come from them.
And it did.
As heartbroken as I was for them, I was also so proud of my boys.
For the first time, they really stood their ground. Matt was the leader and, although I won’t get into details about what occurred, the boys stood up to their father and were able to leave for camp with their friends.
It wasn’t easy for them, but they did it.
But the conflict left a sour taste in the boys’ mouths.
Even Matt and George who had been looking forward to Boy Scout camp for the merit badges and the adventure if nothing else had dampened spirits the morning they left. Throw in Noah’s last minute decision that camp was “stupid” with his being stung by a bee at the gun club where the boys were meeting, and leaving for Boy Scout camp wasn’t the fun experience it should have been.
It held just a tinge of struggle, anger, confusion, pain, and betrayal, and I couldn’t help but notice the contrast between all the boys whose fathers were there either accompanying them on the trip or just standing by supportively, shaking hands, and hugging their sons encouragingly before they left and my boys who had just a bit of a slowness to their step, a slowness others probably didn’t notice.
But a slowness that embedded itself in my memory forever.
The text messages that came later that night broke my heart and made me wonder if sending them had been the right thing…