Boy Scouts did What this Mom Couldn’t

May 18 2014 056A 30 mile bike ride with nary a whine. Just an I Made It! text. And where was I? 10 minutes behind the Scout, my butt and legs hurting.

Our ride started at Mt. Olivet Lutheran Church in South Minneapolis, the meeting place of Boy Scout Troop 110, and ended at Carver Park Reserve.

It didn’t take me long to realize how out of shape I was. Before leaving the parking lot, I tipped over. I couldn’t get my foot out of my clipless foot clamp. Lying on the ground, I looked up at Antonio while other Scout leaders rushed to help me. His face was expressionless, a look that he’s mastering.

“Perhaps, I’d better ride around the parking lot a few times before riding out,” I said.

Antonio’s daily bike riding had him in good shape for this challenge. Still, it was 10 miles before I saw his first smile. Antonio and another Scout had found the electronics table at the Depot Coffee House in Hopkins, our first rest stop. I didn’t chide Antonio to join the other scouts outside. I could see that this was a boy bonding moment and his way into this Boy Scout Troop. Instead, I snapped a picture, left a bottle of Gatorade and chocolate chip cookie on the Playstation.

Before leaving for our next ten miles, he said, “I think I’m going to like this Troop.”

May 18 2014 057At the 20 mile mark, he shocked me with two hugs. This could have been because we were at Adele’s Frozen Custard in Excelsior and in a moment he would ask for gummy worms and sprinkles . . . or maybe he was overwhelmed with love for his mom. Either way, I was shocked when his rock hard arms came around me and squeezed.

I had been giving him space on the ride, staying closer to the back of our herd of 16 bikers. I didn’t want to crowd him as he found his way into the pack.

Sometimes it’s only in a gathering like this that I get a glimpse of Antonio or Crystel as the ‘different’ ones. They are such a part of me that I don’t see any differences between us. In this group, Antonio was the only person of color. Meaning that in this group I was his white mom.

I wanted Antonio to choose how to ‘come out’ in this group that he was adopted. After all, it’s his group.

I’ve watched Antonio step between the world of Hispanics and the world of whites with ease. In this gathering he was the only Hispanic, even though at school his very best friends are Hispanic and white. (Thank you, Richfield Dual Language School!)

Troop 110 found a way around

Troop 110 found a way around

Six years ago, in kindergarten on his way home from school he whined, “Why do I have to learn Spanish?” Perhaps, he saw himself such a part of Jody and me that he didn’t see his difference. I paused thinking ‘Shock alert here’ then answered, “Because you’re Guatemalan, dude.”

At Carver Park Reserve, I texted Jody and told her that I had arrived. Antonio would be camping overnight with the Scouts while I headed for home.

This was another nice surprise: Antonio camping with the Boy Scouts by himself. I had told him in Cub Scouts that if he needed me to I would camp with him until he was 18. Perhaps he is writing his own book, LIFE WITHOUT MOM.

Except his book is LIFE WITHOUT TWO MOMS.

Carver Park Reserve

Carver Park Reserve

I wasn’t sure that Antonio was ‘out’ yet to this Boy Scout Troop that he had two moms. I’m sensitive that he and Crystel are allowed to be visible in their own timing and in their own way. I wrote a blog post about this July 26, 2012 titled Truth Telling.

I had already checked with the Scoutmaster (in private) about how the Troop felt about Antonio having two moms. “Everyone is welcomed.”

Since Jody and I weren’t sure if Antonio had come out to this Boy Scout Troop, we gave him separate quiet goodbyes.

The next morning at 7:40 a.m., I received a text from Antonio: When do you pick me up?

The Boy Scout

The Boy Scout

I couldn’t read between the lines–did he have a good time? Didn’t he have a good time? Would he be adamant about never returning to Scouts?

I texted back the time and then asked, “On a scale of 1 to 10, how did it go?”

He answered, 10!

Cub Scouts with Antonio

Cub Scouts ready to leave for Camp Tomahawk

Cub Scouts ready to leave for Camp Tomahawk

This is Antonio’s 5th year in Cub Scouts. That means that this is my 5th year in Cub Scouts. It started off when we were Tigers together when he was 6-years-old. I got the hint real quick that he would never allow me just to drop him off.  I also saw that our den leader needed help with this group of first graders so I became an assistant. That started my career in Scouts and Antonio tagged along.

That was our deal. He would go, if I would go.

It was important to Jody and I that Antonio learn to navigate his way in the ‘male’ world. The easiest place to find a bunch of boys is at Scouts.

Merry-Go-Round of Death!

Merry-Go-Round of Death!

I’ve watched him over the years become friendlier and more social with his den. Especially, after the  Scout meeting when a pick-up game of tag erupts.

I’m really not sure if Antonio has learned any life lessons in his last four years of Scouts. And there has been many times that he has told me that he loves his home with his two moms and his sister and that he doesn’t need the experience of Cub Scouts. I believe him. Still, I make him go. It just seems like the right thing to do. Throw him in a pond of testosterone and let him find his way to shore.

Antonio knows that he can decide for himself whether or not to join Boy Scouts after fifth grade.

We just came home from a 3-night camping trip at Camp Tomahawk for 2nd year Webelos (10 and 11-year-olds).

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAI had a good time because Antonio was having a good time. He was the one shooting the BB guns, practicing archery, racing to the top of the climbing wall, riding the merry-go-round of death, and playing king of the hill on the raft.

I was the one watching his smile.

Yes, I still got the occasional, “When are we going home?” question. And also his own honest opinion of himself , “I miss home when I’m only a block away”, he said. I told him that I understood and that both things could be true. He could miss home and he could have a good time.

I even heard him mention a time or two that he might join Boy Scouts.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAAntonio doesn’t appear to be aware of the controversy surrounding Scouts. It wasn’t present at Camp Tomahawk. What was present was an awesome staff of young men who were intent on making a memorable experience for 10 and 11-year-old boys. And to that end, they succeeded.

Pinewood Derby: Don’t Touch Mama Beth!

At times, Antonio has every right to place sticky’s with “Don’t Touch Mom!” around the house. He has long known that I can be an impediment to his goals.

The reason THIS sticky ended up on THIS cardboard box is because Antonio found me laying prone on the floor taking a photo of his pinewood derby car. Pack 384 is having their Pinewood Derby race on February 26 at Woodlake Lutheran Church in Richfield.

Antonio was steaming. “I don’t want the WHEELS to touch the floor!” Picking up his car, he said sternly, “Don’t touch it, Mom Beth!”

“Antonio, really, I just gently set it down. I didn’t bump the wheels at all.”

He was not dissuaded. The next time I looked at the car it had a sticky note.

I wasn’t trying to sneak a picture of his car. Heck, I could have just waited until he wasn’t home if I thought it was going to be an ISSUE. I wasn’t thinking of THOSE WHEELS and anyone worth their pinewood moxie knows that you don’t mess with the wheels.

Antonio made his first pinewood derby car when he was seven years old. Even though I was a den leader the most I could do for him was take him to a PWD racing workshop and have him use their tools to make his car. I am totally inept about making things but I am good at asking for help. So that is why his Uncle Marty and Crystel came along: for support and to make a car for themselves.

Artistically, I’m a wash, too. So, it helps that this is supposed to be the Cub Scout’s project because I will not be painting any car. It is out of the question.

Pinewood derby 014When you are seven years old, Chuck E. Cheese is a pretty big deal. Antonio had just been to a birthday party at Chuck E. Cheese and thought it would be pretty cool to glue extra Chuck E. Cheese tickets onto his car. I was doubtful. I squinted at him. I screwed up my face. But, I didn’t say a word. Then he found a puke green color and painted his car.

I didn’t have any hopes for that car. I tried to tell him that not everyone wins. As winners kept being announced, I told him that it was okay, maybe, next year. He ended up placing fifth which meant that he was able to go to the Metro Lakes District competition with his Chuck E. Cheese car. Uncle Marty, Crystel, and Antonio would have more bonding time.

Pinewood derby trophy 003After the race they came home with Antonio carrying a trophy bigger than I have ever won in my life. He had placed FIRST at the District. “How did that happen?” I asked Marty. “I don’t know,” he said. “It just happened.”

His next race would be the Northern Star Council race held at the Mall of Amercia. It was weeks away and I put the date on the calendar. The Sunday of the meet I looked up where to find the competition at the Mall of America. I couldn’t find it listed. Slowly, scanning websites, I started to comprehend that we had missed the event. The race had been the day before on Saturday.

Antonio has raced a pinewood derby car the last three years and has placed and won a trophy each time.

Cub Scout PineWood derby 025Last year Antonio, Marty, and Crystel all placed with Crystel winning fastest sibling. This has become a family event with Mama Beth continuing to thwart Antonio’s chances at the big win.

In 2012, having placed 2nd at the pack level, Antonio again was competing at Metro Lakes District. Shortly before the match, I told Antonio, that I noticed one of his wheels wasn’t touching the floor and we bent it down until it did.

Four wheels on the ground make a car go faster, right?

Immediately before we were to hand the car in for the race I learned from another den leader that only three wheels were supposed to be touching. Antonio and I hurridly made adjustments. But I was left to wonder, How fast would that car have gone if I hadn’t touched it? It ended up being tenth overall. Oh, Uncle Marty, where were you?

Pinewood derby 015This year I want to tell Antonio that maybe they won’t let him keep Red and King Pig as drivers in his car, and that the drag might slow his car down. But really, what do I know?

I feel fortunate that even though I can’t make things, can’t paint, and don’t understand anything about wheels, and that we missed the biggest race of all at the Mall of America when he was seven, 003I still got top billing on the bottom of his Chuck E. Cheese winning pinewood derby car.