One of the hardest and most frustrating things about raising a G2e kid (or any kid, for that matter) is deciding which hill you’re gonna die on. While it’s mainly an overarching parenting issue, it’s made up of daily and hourly decisions, much like life. We have to decide just what is worth fighting for or about, simply because there is just.so.much.
When Andy was preschool-age, he refused to wear socks. Wouldn’t do it. I still don’t know if it was because of the seams, or if they twisted around his toes, or what. He wouldn’t wear them. Fine, we lived in Colorado, this was the golden age of Crocs, no worries. You can go without socks, but if there’s snow on the ground, you are wearing socks do not even TRY to argue with me. It worked. He may have been sockless in freezing temps, but so much as a snowflake and on they went without argument. Helped that it was Colorado and winters were considerably milder than the eternal hell on earth we have now in northern Illinois. Thank god we finally found socks he’d wear; at $14/pair I die a little inside when we buy them, but at least his feet are warm. Right now I’m in a Battle Royale with Jack, who refuses to wear a parka to school. It was 5F when he left to catch the bus this morning, wearing a heavy parka, stocking cap, no gloves. The reasons I’ve been given have included: no room in my locker, don’t have time to get to my locker before my first class, I’d forget it after my last class, I’d have to carry it all day, etc. Honestly, I think it’s some sort of high school Hunger Games/Tide Pod Challenge BS to see who can go the longest without winter wear in the lowest temperatures. The prize is bragging rights and a hospital stay for hypothermia. We’re going out this afternoon to get him a warmer coat that isn’t the parka he describes as “for a months-long Alaskan expedition.” It’s cheaper to buy the damned coat than pay for medical care; I’m hearing horrified whispers of next week’s HIGH temperatures being in the negative double digits.
So I’m getting better about picking my battles, and it helps that the boys are old enough to make more decisions about their lives and suffer the consequences of those decisions. Tom and I have also gotten better about discerning what each boy needs and standing strong as a team.
Which leads us to now.
When Andy was in 1st grade and we were stumbling about, wondering just what the hell a twice-exceptional diagnosis was going to mean for him, we signed him up with Cub Scouts. My brother was a Scout, all the way through Eagle, and it did wonders for him. As I’d known for years by that point that I was raising a kid who was just like my brother, into Scouts Andy went. He liked it until he didn’t. He loved it until he hated it. He begged to go on campouts; he begged to quit. He hated fundraisers; he sold so many raffle tickets he won a Nintendo Switch. (The only consistency was the inconsistency, as usual) And somehow, Tom and I stood strong and refused to give in. We moved, Andy (and now Jack) continued in Scouting. I had a glorious week to myself when all three went to Scout camp. Tom became an assistant Scoutmaster. Andy continued his love/hate relationship as he ranked up; Jack dropped (we decided this wasn’t the hill to die on). This went on until suddenly Andy was at the last rank. Eagle.
Only 4% of Scouts earn the rank of Eagle. It is not easy. That last leg of any journey is long and hard and feels like it will never end. Eagle is no different, it just has the added bonus of a hard deadline. A Scout must achieve the rank of Eagle before his 18th birthday, full stop. Keep in mind that these are teen boys. They have high school classes and activities and jobs and social lives; they are busy. Add in the difficulties of being 2e, with all the chaos and frustration that entails, and you’ll understand how much it means to say:
THE EAGLE HAS LANDED.
Andy has earned his Eagle rank. He fulfilled all the requirements and then some; I believe he’ll also earn a bronze palm, for additional merit badges earned after Eagle is reached. He did this four full months before his 18th birthday.
Thank god for Tom, who busted his own incredibly busy ass for this kid. He became an assistant Scoutmaster, even going through the Wood Badge program. He went on countless campouts, though the only thing he enjoyed was the outdoor cooking. He made sure Andy was on top of all the details; Andy did the work, but he had a father behind him making sure those details were the right ones, and not rabbit holes into which a 2e teen can tumble, never to be seen again.
There are few words to describe the level of pride we have for our kid on this. This march to the beat of his own drummer, quirky, most complex kid any expert has ever seen, twice-exceptional young man…has earned something so few individuals have that it’s something they put on a resume or cv for life. He had outstanding mentors, he had guidance and help as needed, he had parents who bloody well refused to let him quit (even last fall, when he was planning his Eagle project he wanted to quit, and I ripped him a couple of new orifices), and here he is. Planning his Eagle Ceremony. Standing a little taller. Quietly proud of what he has accomplished. And very, very glad it’s over.
Pick your battles. Not everything is worth the fight, and my god we still have so many ahead of us. This? Worth it.
Our son is an Eagle Scout.
<faints from relief>