Thursday, June 19, 2014

The Limits on Love

Chaperoning Boy Scout Camp in 90 degrees was an adventure!

In prior blogs, I've mentioned that my boys have expressed displeasure with some of my summer expectations. Their unhappiness has been verbalized in different ways.  A common accusation is that I don't love them. When I insist that love is at the root of my expectations, they seem unconvinced.

Words can only go so far; actions seem to have a bit more punch.  Hopefully, the last several days I've proved my affection to my sons through my actions as I've spent time with them doing things they enjoy.

Let's start with Tuesday when I chaperoned Cooper's Boy Scout Camp.  I don't know what says love more than being willing to spend eight plus hours with 16 boys in the woods: making wood crafts, cooking food over flames, and dodging bows and arrows (and did I mention the temperature was a sweltering 90 degrees).

But I think the clearest sign of love came last night when I accompanied Caleb to his Hoosier Herpetology Meeting for "Bring a Pet Night."  At this meeting, the pets don't come in the furry, cute sort of form.  Instead, they are scaly and creepy. (And to put all readers' minds at ease, the group was not allowed to bring venomous snakes!)

When we walked into the room, all the members sat by coolers.  No, these coolers were not filled with icy beverages, but with snakes.  (Did I mention I'm petrified of snakes!)  Periodically, a cooler was opened and a snake's head popped out.  Everyone oohed and aahed over the scaly creature.

Another member walked up to Caleb and me.  She asked if Caleb brought a pet.

"No," I replied.  "He doesn't own a reptile."

She responded with a shocked expression; it was as if I just announced, "We decided not to buy him shoes or feed him dinners."

She recovered and rattled on about her 70 snakes.  We discovered that she lives just miles from my house (which I think will be the source of many a future nightmare!).  She engaged us in a lengthy discussion about her turtle's kidney stones and the possibility of surgery.  It was one of those rare conversation where I had absolutely nothing to add but to maintain a smile and a continual nodding of the head.

The meeting started as the first member strolled up to the podium with cooler in hand.  She revealed a few friendly box turtles.  I relaxed and gazed at Caleb.  He was enthralled and I loved being with him in his element.

The next member walked up with an even bigger cooler (think weekend tailgate sort of cooler).  He dug his hands into the cooler and brought out a 13-foot python.  I almost lost my lunch and peed my pants. 

At this point, I decided to support Caleb from afar... in a chair outside the classroom (far enough away from the snakes, but close enough to keep tabs on my son.)

After the last pet was shown, I gathered Caleb.  Snakehead Ed, a particularly knowledgeable and colorful member, asked again about Caleb's pet (or lack thereof).  I confessed that Caleb didn't own a reptile.

Snakehead Ed shot me the same disgusted, pity look as the other member.

He announced, "You need to get a starter snake.  A python is a great started snake."

He continued to rattle off the details on how to acquire a ball python.  (After all, they only grow to be four feet!)

Caleb was pumped.  As we left Snakehead Ed, Caleb talked about the python as if he was already a member of the family.

I stopped him in the parking lot and spun him around.

"Caleb," I began.  "I love you enough to attend these meetings with you.  I may even consider adding a reptile to the house if it comes in the form of a gentle turtle or lazy lizard, but there is NO way we will be acquiring a python."

It's time Caleb knew; love does have its limits!

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