I ran my first Cub Scout den meeting today for Andrew's (7) den. I've run businesses worth hundreds of millions of dollars and managed teams of over a hundred successfully, so I figured how hard could an hour meeting with four boys be? (Insert evil laugh of Fate here...)
I tested the boys for their Bobcat badge first. They actually knew their stuff so we flew through that WAY faster than I expected. I noticed how quickly the time was going and started to ask them to explain the finer symbology of the salute and the commitments embodied in the Cub Scout Pledge. I tested them on their definition of loyalty and examples of how they could "Do Your Best" (Cub Scout motto) in their daily lives.
They sensed my fear and shot great answers back to me immediately. They all glared at me with "Is that all you've got, old man?" in their eyes. Defeated, I signed off on their books, completing their Bobcat trail. They had earned their first Scouting badge and had picked up my ego as a bonus.
I moved to my next activity (which was not scheduled to start until 7:40pm). I had cleverly picked two games from their scouting book, thinking I could both kill some time and sign off on two more badge requirements for a later badge. I also figured I was doing them a real service as the games will be good as drinking games too when they're in college (or high school as the case may be).
The first game was pitching pennies into pie tins. The scout book actually had recommended washers, but I used what I had -- coins. I see now why they explicitly noted washers; seven year old boys act as though they've never seen money and were eagerly and greedly diving into my bag to rummage for coins. It's a good thing none of them had their Cub Scout pocket knife; I know they would have carved me like a pumpkin to get a quarter.
Seeing my weakness, they didn't listen to me at all, and I didn't feel like I could beat them senseless in front of their parents. Fortunately, one of the mothers took pity on me and worked her mom magic. Apparently, the lack of a second X chromosome makes men incapable of effectively controlling children (at least I'd like to believe it's not my fault.)
After the penny pitching devolved into "penny hurling" and "shotgun pennies" and after a heated yelling match between Andrew and another boy about what constituted a fair pitch (devolving into near-tears for the other boy), we moved onto the next game, shooting marbles between cans.
So, it turns out that boys these days don't really play marbles. I should have figured this out since it was hard to find them. (Target doesn't carry them; I had to go to a "thinking toys" shop loaded with stuff that parents love and kids hate.) The boys didn't really know how to shoot marbles, preferring to throw them at me or pinch them like watermelon seeds. With the quick thinking and XX power of the mom at my side, I managed to coax them through a few rounds of this silly marble game without too many fights (although who got what marble was a nightmare, of course.)
I surrender and call the meeting, ten minutes earlier than planned but not a minute too soon for my sanity.
I have gobs of respect for people who manage piles of kids effectively; I don't know how they do it. I'm going back to my day job. It's way easier. Thank God the various parents in our den rotate meetings, so I don't have to do this again for a long time.