Monday, June 8, 2009

Testing the Scoutmaster

The soccer team of one of my daughters just had an end of season family picnic. We brought our dinner to the park and then played a little parents versus kids soccer game. It was a lot of fun.

The younger sister of one of my scouts is also on the team, so some of their family came. It was relatively peaceful until their ten year old brother decided he wanted to start harassing me. You SMs and ASMs all know what it's like. The kid just starts poking and prodding until he gets a reaction. You don't want to react, but you also don't want a bunch of grass stuffed down your shirt or smoke in your face or more than a couple small rocks or clumps of dirt thrown at you.

I've dealt very little with this particular boy, although I know he is very outgoing and playful, and he joins the troop later this year, so I figured it was a good time to start getting to know him. I was holding a baby and talking to him and a couple other people a little bit when he decided he wanted to start throwing grass at me. I made jokes about him getting grass on the baby and distracted him for a few minutes by having the baby give him five and other little tricks. As the clumps of grass got bigger, I started stiff-arming him to keep him away or grabbing his grass-filled hand with my one free hand and twisting it lightly behind his back.

He began to grow more determined to cover me in grass, and the party began to break up, so I decided I should leave. As I started grabbing handfuls of leftover food and garbage to take back to the car, he kept coming at me to throw more grass on me. I don't know if he just wanted to get one big clump on me and then leave, but I expect that he'd have kept coming with more. So I unscrewed the lid of my 2 quart water jug and he retreated. Every time I'd set the jug down and start picking up the rest of my stuff, he'd come at me again. So I hit him in the chest with an ice cube and chased him a little ways, splashing a small bit of icy water on him.

Again, as I returned to pick up my belongings, he came with more grass clippings, and I splashed more water on him. I had only a little bit of water left when I noticed another dad nearby leaning on a large 5 gallon jug. I asked if it had water in it still, and he replied that it did. I told him that we should pour it on him, thinking the boy would get smart and leave me alone. He didn't. The other dad said, "That's a decision only a Scoutmaster can make," which I thought was interesting, since I don't know how he would have known I was the SM. I think he could just tell by our interaction, that it was a classic SM dealing with a boy testing the boundaries. I replied that the decision had been made, and I grabbed him and held him while the other guy dumped a couple gallons of water and ice cubes on the boy.

He was surprised, to say the least. He found the boundary. His brother who was also there knowingly commented about how I had doused him at summer camp last year. He had also found the boundary. Hopefully by the time the younger one actually joins up with us, he'll remember to draw the line and leave me alone. My guess is that he'll have forgotten by then and will need to retest me. It's likely that the result will be the same.

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