It's a Mess
Wendie Howland (WAHowland@AOL.COM)
Wed, 1 Jul 1998 12:44:16 EDT
We had a similar situation in our Troop. Mommy (single parent, older
daughter) came to the kid's first Scout meeting after crossover and sat with
the patrol. It was a little strange, but we figured it wouldn't last long.
After two weeks of this I said, "We're always happy to have parents involved
with the troop, but the adults sit over here so the patrols can have their
time together to work." Pleasant but vague smile as a response. She often
grabbed his stuff and told him how badly he was doing at things. The next week
I said, "Susan, you have to come and sit with the adults." More vagueness.
Finally, "Susan. It is inappropriate for you to sit with the patrol. This is
Scouts, not Cubs. If you don't want to join the adults, then take the evening
off and just drop S...... off at 7 and pick him up at 8:30." She also used to
call me and ask about info that S.... should have rec'd, and did receive, from
his PL, and when I told her to have S... call the PL just barged on ahead to
ask me anyway. Or she would put him on the extension phone and prompt him, and
correct him violently if he stumbled. Kid had no privacy at all.
Fortunately, we went to summer camp 350 miles away that year. S... was in his
element, and appeared to be a great deal more competent than we had guessed,
especially at waterfront. However, we noticed him walking bowlegged at about
Wednesday and found that he had worn his damp bathing suit all week, day and
night, without a change of underwear. That's when we realized that this poor
kid had probably literally been unable to get dressed without his mommy
telling him how to do everything. One of the male ASM's had a heart-to-heart
with him and showed him how to organize the amazing mess in his camp box and
how important it is to wear clean and dry things every day. He began to
flourish, but after we got back and started up again in Sept he came a few
times and never again. We figured she didn't really want him to grow up...
As to your problem mom, be prepared and be direct. Enlist the aid of Ginny,
Bobby's mom, who had a terrible time separating last year when Bobby was a new
crossover with some homesickness issues.
Begin with the problem mom, "I notice that you don't seem too comfortable with
young Percival going to camp with us." If she says, "Oh, no, I would never..."
then plow straight ahead and say, "Many moms feel this way when their boy goes
to camp for the first time. This is Bobby's mom, Ginny. Ginny, tell her what
happened with Bobby and how it was with you and him!" And Ginny says how she
was worried as heck, but he came home with great selfconfidence and the
Swimming and Mammal Study MB's, how much she appreciated the SM staff's
attention to all the boys, blah blah.
And if she says, "Yes, I'm uncomfortable about this, he'll get wet and dirty
and he doesn't know how to do stuff for himself", you can try the commonsense
appeal: "Look around you. There are 275 boys at camp this week. What do you
think would happen to us if we let all these Scouts get into trouble? He will
be safe here. If he gets wet, we'll teach him how to keep himself dry. We have
inspection every morning, and if he can't make up his bunk his PL will show
him how, so their patrol won't lose points. A Scout is Clean--- the showers
are over there, for kids that don't get pretty clean anyway in the pond at
free swim. Here is his schedule."
Head off the homesickness thing, which may be unspoken, by pointing directly
at it. "Many kids feel some homesickness their first time away. But research
has shown what Scoutmasters have known for years: a busy kid can't be
homesick, because he doesn't have time. See this schedule? Swimming, Nature,
archery, campfire prep, metalwork.... and troop competitions, and patrol
games... By Wednesday he'll be in the swing of things. You're a teacher,
right? I'm sure as a teacher you've had similar stories with your students--
at the beginning of school some kids are more clingy and less ready for
school. A good teacher recognizes them and gets them off to a good start with
things they can succeed in with minimal risk. We do the same thing here."
When she starts the "Yes, but.."s, have her follow through with logical
consequences. Huh? It goes like this.
She: "Yes, but he needs to have a pillow!"
You say, "What if he doesn't?"
She says," He won't be able to sleep at night."
You: "And then?"
She: "He'll be tired!"
You: "And then?"
She: "He won't get up in the morning!"
She: "He'll miss breakfast!"
She: (becoming more exasperated) "He'll be hungry!"
You: (continued very calm) "And then?"
Well, you see where this is going. He'll be first in line for lunch, and
probably be tired so he'll sleep on anything, even a rolled-up sweatshirt, and
be first in line for breakfast. And so forth. Eventually, she'll come to the
point or realizing that he'll start taking responsibility for his own actions,
and if he won't, then he'll suffer some unpleasantnesses, but nothing
dangerous, and there will be an adequate safety net for him. Sometimes this
takes an amazingly long series of "And then?"s, but I've never known it to
fail, because eventually even the most obtuse realizes that the kid is
responsible and the kid will suffer the consequences, which is as it should be
for learning to occur.
Tell her if he doesn't like it he doesn't have to come back next year, but
that you bet he will want to. But if she wants to be at camp then she has to
be like the other adults the same as he has to be like the other kids. Put 'em
both on the duty rosters. She can sit her turn at waterfront tower duty, take
her turn as the adult who spends the morning in the unit to make sure
everybody is out and about, take her turn at waiter in the dining hall. In
uniform, registered. Make sure they both know that others depend on their
doing their jobs right and on time. When both of them see that Scouts can do
this, then they'll both relax.
And if they don't? Well, you can't save every kitten. Tell the two of them
together directly that troop membership depends on, well, troop participation,
and you're sorry that little Percival has decided not to be a Scout. If she
doth protest too much, then describe the steps you have taken before and how
they have not worked, and say again that you're sorry. It may be a surprise to
little Percival... see what he says, and focus on hm when he says it.
I can't wait to hear how all this works out!
ASM T44 Pocasset MA
Cape Cod & Islands Council
Abake MiSaNaKi Lodge #393
NSJ 1997 Nat'l Health & Safety
I useta be an Eagle...
' We used to be a Beaver and a good old Bobwhite too,
But now we've finished Foxing and we don't know what to do,
We're growing Owl and Eagle, and we can Bear no more,
So we're getting out of Gilwell while we can!'
Scouting is a way of life....oooommmmmmmmm...repeat as needed*
*Thanks, Larry Faust...
Terry Howerton Sakima Group, Inc. SCOUTER Magazine Kansas City