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The pack


The problem is, it’s not just about me. My god it would be easier if it was. Guilt would less readily find a perch. Ground could be more easily conceded. But it’s an inescapable fact that I’m bound by birth and blood to two small people who through no fault of their own found themselves at the epicentre of an earthquake. The building they shelter in may be designed to survive the natural forces pressing in, but it doesn’t mean they don’t still feel vibrations or have to deal with unexpected aftershocks.


So what to do. If the weight of responsibility I felt for raising my children ‘well’ before getting divorced wasn’t heavy enough, its nearly crippling now. Luckily there’s something innate about being a parent (and perhaps this manifests even more strongly as a mother) that allows you to find an untapped source of inner grit when your offspring’s best interests are at risk. I would heave with the might of Jean Valjean to ensure their ship was brought into safe harbour and still have strength left to fight.


But it’s not as simple as protecting them from the elements. It’s about equipping them with the tools to cope with the challenges which face them. Helping them to be prepared. And so I find myself drawn to the wisdom of the Scouts. Integrity, respect, care, belief and cooperation are the core values of an organisation dedicated to the development of young people and I think it’s very telling that the Scout Promise deepens over time as children grow both mentally and physically.


Perhaps scouting resonates with me because as the mother of two boys I feel in many ways I already exist in a pack and that together we’re merely the continuation of the large tribe I myself come from. While striving to do my part for my children’s greater good I believe I can also take comfort in the support, wisdom and positive influence of others. In Rudyard Kipling’s The Jungle Book (intricately linked with the Scout philosophy) the wolves pledge that ‘the strength of the pack is the wolf, and the strength of the wolf is the pack’.


Despite being over a century old, Kipling’s collection of short stories makes curious sense to me. I feel a duty to ensure that my cubs, by the time their whiskers are fully grown, set out on their journey through the creepers with both a curiosity and zest for life and a sense of self preservation. A care for the jungle around them and a care for each other. But overall, all I can really do for them is to role model the Scout motto, introduced at Cub level, ‘to do my best’ (a requirement that doesn’t mean perfection). Acting always with fairness, dignity and as part of the pack.


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