Thursday, April 11, 2013

How I Spend My Wednesday Afternoons

As you may or may not know, Optimistic. and I are Cub Scout den leaders, which means we spend an hour every Wednesday trying to teach things to squirrely eight-year-olds. We've done a lot of fun things recently (learning how to hammer nails, building a birdhouse, making our own Chia heads), and the boys are most of the way done earning their Wolf, but they still have a handful of incredibly boring things to pass off. To help the medicine go down a little easier, we try to turn everything into a game.

Yesterday our meeting centered around how to interact with strangers and what to do in different emergency situations. What do you do when a stranger comes to the door, what do you do when a stranger calls on the phone, who do you call in case of an emergency? Stuff like that. To make a game out of it, we played "Stump the Boy Left Home Alone." Basically we had the boys take turns pretending the door to the primary room was their front door, and the rest of us would knock on the door and try to convince the boy to let us in for some reason or another. I was worried that the boys might not be able to come up with compelling reasons to be let in, so I gave them a few ideas of people to pretend to be, like a policeman, or a new neighbor, or a meter reader. I needn't have worried. On the first go-around Boy #1 answered the door, and Boy #2, without so much as a preliminary hello, hit him in the face and then said "Oh, let me come in and give you an ice pack." I have to admit, I thought that was pretty creative. Another boy simply refused to answer the door, which I thought was a wise tactic, until he made the mistake of coming up to the window in the door where we could see him and yelling "I'm not home!"

After that we practiced answering the phone, making sure to impress upon the boys the importance of  etiquette and personal safety. The phrases "They can't come to the phone right now, can I take a message?" and "May I ask who's calling?" were the two biggies, as we wanted to stress that a) it isn't safe to reveal that you're home alone, and b) you should always find out who's on the other end of the line. Optimistic. managed to trip up the first boy, who never asked who was calling and managed to reveal that his parents weren't home. The second boy failed on etiquette and paused when asked if his parents were home, but managed to demand "who's this?" and take down a pretend message.

Things only got better when we practiced emergency phone calls (the idea being that the boys should be able to calmly answer a 911 operator's questions during an emergency). As a fake 911 operator I received a call from one of the boys calling about a fire. He said he was a man inside a burning house. When I told him to get outside and wait for the fire department, he told me he had no legs. I asked if there was anyone else in the house with him, and was told that there was no one but his pet horse. When asked why he didn't ride his pet horse to safety, he responded that without his legs he wasn't tall enough to mount the horse. At that point I gave in and asked why he kept a pet horse if he couldn't ride it. In the end I needlessly advised him to stay low to the ground (no legs, remember?) and assured him that the fire department would be there soon.

It's a frustrating calling to have at times, but mostly it's just really really amusing.