Return the Hat

For the second year in a row I attended a day of scout camp with my son. Last year was the first time he attended the full week of events. After the first day he didn’t want to return, but each day improved a little more than the previous. By the end of the week, he was sad to see the camp come to an end.

Last year I didn’t let my son out of my sight. It’s not that I don’t trust Lincoln. Of our four children, he’s known as the one who not only keeps rules but reports himself when he trips up. When the boys split up into groups to play Red Rover.  I worried he might turn his arm or wrist. I checked in with him dozens of times throughout the day to make sure he was having fun.

But this year I decided to take a few steps back from, and give him some space to navigate his way through camp without my influence.

I don’t know where his self-confidence began to take root, but I’ve noticed he’s more sure of himself since he began playing baseball. He also speaks his mind more often and carries himself with more confidence.

Near the end of the day, a much larger boy swiped Lincoln’s hat and held it just out of his reach.  Last year I would have got involved and demanded the boy return the hat.  When I was about ten years old a teammate grabbed my hat and wouldn’t give it back until I hit him in the groin with a baseball. Effective but not the best way to treat a teammate.

But yesterday was a reminder that my son doesn’t just have my DNA, but that of my more rationalized, evenly tempered spouse. Lincoln realized the other boy was looking for a reaction, but he didn’t go looking for a baseball. He looked at the boy, held out his hand and said, “Please return my hat”.

His hat was returned, and I came away from the experience with an increased appreciation of my son’s maturity.