Stories and thoughts about family and life

ADD, OCD and Boy Scouts

on November 21, 2012

Both my boys are in Boy Scouts.  They each began Cub Scouts as Tigers (the first Cub Scout rank), as soon as they were old enough.  Now Lucas has moved from Cub Scouts into Boy Scouts and is a First Class (which probably really doesn’t mean much, unless you live in the realm of Boy Scouts).  His ultimate goal, as most boys, is to achieve Eagle Scout.  Eagle is the highest honor a Boy Scout can achieve, and is a significant achievement which mark years of preparing and demonstrates leadership and management skills among many, many others.  Beyond Eagle, however, Lucas is hoping to simply earn more merit badges and awards than his dad did on his mission to Eagle.  I marvel at what gives us motivation sometimes.

I’m in a weird place with the whole Boy Scout situation.  Brennan, who is still a Cub Scout, has another year or so left before he will also move into Boy Scouts.  Louis (my husband) is the Scoutmaster (the leader), as well as the Den leader for Brennan’s group.  Needless to say, Scouts is a tremendous part of our life, and has been for quite a while now.  The idea when the boys move into Boy Scouts, is that they are maturing and are learning to manage their own troop.  The purpose of the adult leaders is purely to keep them on track and ensure they don’t kill themselves or anyone else.  The boys (by the time they’re finished) will be managing pretty much the entire process.  This is already somewhat evident at our campouts, as each one pitches his own tent, they’re learning to build fires and we’re about to begin cooking.  I have to admit that I was a little freaked out when Lucas announced at his second Boy Scout campout that he would not be sleeping in our tent anymore and happily bounded across the campground to grab his own tent out of the trailer.  At least Brennan is still content to cuddle up with me on the inflatable mattress and make his mother feel needed.  For now, anyway.

Anyway, as I said, I’m in a weird place.  I’m a very independent person, and I try to teach my children to be so as well.  I have pretty high expectations of them, as I’m told from other parents, and I want them to be able to be as self-sufficient as I was at that age.  I’m realizing that my parents placed tremendous trust in me at a very young age, though, as I contemplate allowing them to do any of the things I was doing at their ages.  And then we have a Scout weekend, and I realize that my parents were pretty much on track (albeit in a different way, as I was raised on a farm and we didn’t have time for things like campouts away from home).  I want them to be independent and I want them to know how to do things, but then I don’t want to watch them get too independent, and I still want to have a part in this very important development time in their lives.

I’ve been trying to separate myself a bit from scouts and let the boys grow up a bit with their dad and share that time with him.  It’s true that they don’t need me as much, and certainly not to pack their gear or get them dressed.  I know I drive them crazy, but it’s really hard for an OCD person to stand back and watch them haphazardly throw things into a bag knowing I’m going to hear things like “I didn’t have extra socks” or “I took the flashlight but no batteries” or (Heaven forbid) “we forgot the tent.”  I forget that my husband has done this for years, but I swear sometimes the only reason we have all our gear for ANY trip is that I’m meticulous about lists and laying it all out in the garage so it gets loaded.    We OCD people need to see it get accomplished.  We need a list to mark off and a method to follow, and we need a plan for when something was left or broken or whatever contingency might arise.    So, you can see how I drive my guys crazy.  It’s okay, you can say it.  I know I do.  I hope they also appreciate it sometimes, but I know more times than not I make them a little nuts.  They just don’t always understand how much they need me (cue maniacal laughing and hand gestures).

Now, I joke about being OCD.  I’ve never been diagnosed.  Well, not officially anyway.  Everyone who has ever known me has diagnosed me.  I’m un-medicated, at any rate.  Another un-diagnosed condition I seem to possess is ADD.  I flit from thing to thing, change subjects mid-sentence, and have 10 simultaneous thoughts or actions occurring.  This is another area of frustration for my family, as we barely accomplish one thing before I’m off to the other.  This means that I’m not just packing–I’m packing three bags at once in different rooms (following a carefully prepared list, I might add), and supervising gathering of items to go in another bag.

So, add the two together, and you get a mom who is desperately trying to find her place but help her kids find theirs.  I need to organize and help them learn to be organized.  I need to juggle several things at once, complain when things aren’t done to my satisfaction, and repeat (sometimes a couple of times!).  I want to be included and excluded at the same time.  I want to help them but not be required to attend.  See?  Weird place.

I have to laugh at Lucas and his laid-back attitude sometimes.  This morning was a prime example.  We are planning a trip next summer to Europe with my parents, and in all my OCD glory, I’m working on itinerary, budget, tickets, etc. now.  I began the conversation with my husband about merit badge opportunities for them on this trip (history or travel or photography related, perhaps), and he gave me the book of badges.  I marveled as I flipped through the pages.  I found so many badges I thought the boys would think were interesting, and I became excited as the prospects of these badges and all the knowledge-gaining possibilities they offered!  I asked Louis if I could make a list of a few badges I thought would be especially interesting for Lucas.  With his approval, I sat down with a few spare minutes, and listed each badge in the book that I thought was relevant to Lucas at all.  When I finished the list, I discussed a few of the specific badges with Lucas and how various people we know could help him learn about those topics and how interesting this would all be.  When I presented him with the list, he actually laughed at me.  Well, chuckled, more really than laughed.  When I looked down, I had to acknowledge I had gone a tad overboard.  There were 54 merit badges on the list.  Yes, 54.  There are probably only about 75 or so in the entire book.  What can I say?  I think my kid is an over-achiever!  I developed this picture in my head of how wonderful this was going to be–us sitting together and working on these projects and me taking him to interview this person or that one, and us touring places and meeting people who could teach him about things like conservation, medicine, engineering, and cinematography.

Lucas came into my office shortly after and said thank you to me for making the list.  I asked him if there were too many items on the list and if he thought that was more than he could do in his Scout career.  Prepared for him to say I had gone a bit over the top, he just smiled sweetly and said that as long as he got more badges than his dad, he was okay, and he really wanted to do a lot of the ones I had listed so we would work on them together.      And do you know the really impressive thing about these badges?  The majority of them expect the scout to demonstrate the ability to communicate, interview, categorize and display proficiency in the particular area of interest.  There are badges for plumbing, home electronics, personal finance, cooking, and public speaking.  What a well-rounded kid an Eagle Scout is.  I’ve been married to one for 21 years and I don’t think I really appreciated that much of that came from scouts until today.  Even Louis says that he didn’t realize how much he was getting out of it at the time.

I hope that my children look back on their childhoods and have happy memories and feel fulfilled.  I hope my OCD and ADD don’t scar them for life, and that maybe we all learn something which makes us better.  Now, back to my next list. . .


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