Our family's oldest young man is now a man in uniform. Stross, at 19 years of age, was inducted into the Boy Scouts of America (BSA) tonight. His life, the BSA's vision, our mission as Stross' parents - it all basically came together tonight when our oldest son ceremoniously claimed a status he's sought more than half his life. He is a Boy Scout. He is a man in uniform.
Amazingly, these two seemingly polar existences merge to reflect Stross' life circumstances. Due to the circumstances of his birth, our man of 19 lives with an intellectual outlook of one entering the scouting system in his boyhood years, yet his dream - since his actual boyhood - has been to serve his country as a man in uniform. That dream became possible tonight thanks to the Boy Scouts of America, and Stross' inherent persistence.
Stross - despite our assertions that he was too old to join the scouting program - independently searched the Internet to learn this: A Scout or Venturer with a disability may work toward rank advancement after he is 18 years of age. See also: Boy Scout Policy on Advancement for Members with Special Needs
This was incredible news for Stross (and us); for when he was in elementary school and first heard about the Boy Scouts, Mark and I couldn't bring ourselves to figure out how to make his desire a reality. There was just too much other stuff: two times per week therapy sessions, daily at-home therapies, daily homework, six times per day medical cares, church activities, family gatherings where we needed to think through accommodations, and his younger brother, Skye, who needed his own undivided attention as well.
Stross wanted to become a Scout way back then, but we deferred. We knew it wouldn't be as simple as signing him up and regularly getting him to the meetings. We knew that a lot of the accommodating and facilitating would need to come from us, for it is simply too hard for others to get their brains around what must happen for inclusion to help someone truly feel included - sometimes they never can. And if it doesn't happen, the pain from renewed grief is daunting.
You just never know what to expect. While a negative experience would have been unlikely in our friendly hometown, had we attempted an earlier entry into scouting, the outcome could just have easily been something like this: News Story: Scout with Disabilities Told to Get Lost and then also Blog: Cub Scouts tell Mother her Son is No Longer Welcome In fact, that could have been the reaction when Stross brought this dream up again shortly before his 19th birthday.
Fortunately, scouting runs in my genetic pool. I have Eagle Scouts as an uncle, cousins, cousin's children, a brother-in-law and - soon - a nephew. And, certainly, that much Eagle Scout initiative can come in handy at times like this.
A sincere thank you to Scoutmaster Greg Blank (Stross' uncle) for helping our son's dream finally become a reality (and for fielding dozens, maybe more than a hundred, text messages from an eager Scout-to-be).
Stross was radiant tonight. He wants to wear his uniform every day. He wants to become an Eagle Scout, too. It may take some time, but I believe he will. Mr. Persistent has his eye on that new dream, and I can hardly wait for it to come true.
I hope you can sense Stross' feelings of fulfillment in this vlog. I hope you feel - once again - his involuntary joy at the magnificence of life. You are destined to soar, Stross. I promise we will be here to keep your wings from touching the ground.
Congratulations, Kiddo! We love you.