A moment of pause for the direction in which we are heading.
I relish my drive time to school every morning. It's tough at times because it often comes in the midst of the 'morning shuffle'- parents know what I'm talking about- My wife wakes our two girls up; manages their getting dressed; as all three come downstairs to my breakfast set-up, lunch pack and we all hustle out the door in an effort to make it to school- safe & sound. Working parents know this routine all too well and everyone manages it differently, but that is how it goes in the Sandoval house.
Once we get in the car, I have to force myself to take a deep breath and enjoy the drive to school. It's my favorite time of the day- but I focus on staying present. Some day, these memories are all I will have of my children when they are all grown up. I love this time because they are both usually at their sharpest in the morning and its real quality time where we have some of our deepest conversations in the midst of the thirty minute ride to school.
I was stopped in my tracks this week as my daughter asked me if I could take her and her girl scout unit on a camping trip. "Daddy, can you take us?" she asked. As I bit down hard on the response, I wanted to give (knowing way too much about the grown-up reasons why this might not be possible), I replied to her "Honey, perhaps mommy can take you- it would be great for you to be with mommy". "But why daddy? (growing upset) I want you to take us and go with us- You are the outdoor guy- you are the scout!" Her anxiety around the issue almost brought a tear to my eye. As I bit back on the emotions, I replied "Sweetie, daddy's aren't allowed to participate in Girls scouts only mommies". "Then I don't want to go Dad! I will only go if you can be part! Why can mommies be part of cub scouts and daddies, but in girl scouts only mommies?" she wailed on the verge of tears. "It would be a big shame if you didn't go. We know your leaders and they are good people. We can always do our own family camping trips" I said "remember how excited you where about girl scouts?" "Yes daddy, I remember" she whimpered. "Then I want you to be the best girl scout - you can be. I'll be watching and we'll be learning on the side honey" I replied. "Ok , daddy I will. Can you still teach me?" she said as a smile started to creep into her teary face. " Both mommy and I will teach you- we're a family remember- we do things together" I said.
This was not how I wanted this conversation to go- but I feared this would come up some time- but not this soon! Not at the age of seven! My wife and I had talked through this scenario some time back. There is countless social and psychological evidence that developing strong bonds with their fathers during the ages of birth and nine years of age is important to the self esteem and confidence of young girls. The national girl scout movement has elected to restrict men from participating in scouting with their daughters. Hidden behind the screen of youth protection - they have been successful in defending this as contrary as it might be to the preservation of strong families in my personal opinion. The option for change might be to take a page out of Saul Alinsky's handbook and protest GSA, decrying their discrimination. Perhaps I could mount a Supreme court level suit against them speaking for father's rights? All in the name of equality! We've seen activists mount those same tactics against the very bedrocks of American society in waging ideological warfare on religious and social institutions en route to recreating American society to their liking. In the end, what would that accomplish? I might weaken the very institution that could benefit my daughters development and probably (most likely) put a sizable hole in our bank account. In the end, both would lose- our daughters and GSA. It might make some constitutional lawyer happy should the suit win- but what would be gained?
So the spot decision was to have her stick with it. That's what I was taught in my years of scouting. Finish what you started and learn from it. Whatever it may be- learn. I only wish the idealogues on both sides of the aisle- would listen. We'll save that for another day.
Post script (amended 11/16/13) :As life might have it- what do I have come up in my google feed today than this story.. Timely or a message from a greater being? You tell me.