Sunday, January 22, 2012

Parenting is an art

Before whatever caused the allergic reaction in me that necessitated my younger son and me returning home early from Cub Scout Winter Camp, we had a wonderful time. Nevertheless, one thing always strikes me when I am at events such as that -- the various ways that men handle their parental responsibilities.

I admit, no person is perfect and no one dad has all the right answers (not even those politicians, despite those dripping-with-sugar words that their children often say about them) when it comes to teaching, guiding and rearing a child.

However, sometimes it's necessary to admit that some parents leave me scratching my head.

Pittsburgh-area Scouts attend Winter Camp at Heritage Reservation, which is located in Farmington and on a mountain. Needless to say, in January, the weather is almost guaranteed to be cold. Such was the case this weekend; freezing rain came down late Friday and by Saturday morning a lovely coating of ice was on everything.

Saturday morning greeted us with temperatures in the mid-20s and the threat of snow. A warm jacket, gloves and an appropriate hat were musts. One father appeared to patiently be waiting for his son and then believing no one was around to hear him left little doubt that his patience was shot.

Suggesting that he was "really disappointed" in his son, he threatened to pull him out of Cub Scouts because he was perhaps the most disorganized person he knew. He reminded his son that he had paid $25 for the gloves that his son now could not find. As his rant continued, my 8-year-old looked at me, and I couldn't decide if he felt fear for himself or embarrassment at overhearing an overheated father.

I was left wondering how much help the father had actually provided the kid as he got ready. I'm guessing the kid was 10; so if you want to make the case that he should be completely responsible for himself at that age, allow me to step aside and let you argue that with someone else.

Later in the day, as my son and I opted to get warm inside and in the game room, I saw a kid walk in wearing shorts. Yes, you heard me. Shorts. The temperature had rocketed all the way to the low 30s by this point. I couldn't help but look at the kid's bare white legs and wonder why in the world there weren't jeans or some other kind of long pants covering them. Of course, his dad never came into the game room while my son and I were there, so I had no way to compare how father and son were dressed.

Of course, what I saw was not the norm. I especially enjoyed seeing the dads who, for example, played broomball with their kids, or who agreed to go sledding down an icy hill.

Sorry, Nicky, but my sometimes tricky back wouldn't allow me to do that with you!

Oh, and in case you are wondering, yes, moms attend Winter Camp. But in my mind, they always seem to make the right choices for their sons.

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