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Making Choices - My First Challenge: Rookie Mistake



Well, a least it feels like a challenge.

A little background.  My son, Ian, is 7.  That is the age at which a young, strapping boy can start Cub Scouts.  He is a Tiger Scout.  And, I am the Tiger Scout Den Leader.  I actually love having this position.  And it's a family tradition.  My mom was my Den Leader, back in the day, and my sister was Den Leader for her boys.  My wife is a Girl Scout Troop leader for our daughter as well.  It's like I was born for the position.

In our Den, there are 14 Tiger Scouts.  Which is a little big for a Cub Scout Den, but not bad.  Our small school partners with a nearby public school for the Pack (group of Dens for the uninitiated).  We have now had four Den meetings and have had them in three different rooms.  Not being one to complain, and just focus on the boys' experience, I rolled with it.  Our Den meetings are 1 hour long, once a month.  And there's a lot we have to pack into that time.  So with 14 6-7 year old boys, plus parents and a few siblings, there can be a lot of chaos involved.  Alright, it's the embodiment of chaos.  But that is to be expected.

Tonight was out fourth meeting.  We were shunted to our third room.  I wasn't sure why.  The custodial woman who showed us to the room suggested we take a different one because it was bigger.  I was very thankful for her suggestion.  As the meeting started, we needed something to write with.  I grabbed a box of crayons from the cupboard to use.  (Spoiler alert: this move was my mistake, and I should have been more prepared with supplies).  As the meeting went on, we probably used 10 crayons total from a box that contained 100-200.  Some of the siblings in the back started to play with a small doll house.  After the meeting wrapped up, and people were slowly leaving, the same woman from the cleaning staff returned and, upon seeing the children putting up the doll house, said, "This can't happen!  This is why they made the art room off limits!".  I'm paraphrasing, but she was upset.  This caught me off guard, but I apologized and assured her we would put everything back.  She said that it was unlikely we would be able to use this room again because we had used supplies from the room and played with the toys.

We cleaned up the rest of our supplies, and I found her again and apologized.  She was very nice about it and was obviously just trying to do her job.

The situation highlights my challenge, though.  As I said before, I should have been more prepared with supplies and more aware of what the other children were doing.  Given my focus on powering through the meeting and relative newness as a Scout leader, I chalk this up to a rookie mistake.  My bad, but I've learned from it.  But what was implied, in custodian's frustration, was that the previous meeting place, the art room, was now off limits because the teacher had complained to the school office as a result of "things not being put back" and supplies being used.  Here's where I'm fighting frustration and anger.  Had the concerns been initially communicated to me, and any other group that used the art room, I could have addressed them and changed my actions sooner.  Instead, we were simply shunted to another room with no explanation.  Now we may be relegated to yet another room which has been essentially been described as "smaller with not much in it".

Here's where I can make my choice.  I can be angry and act defensive.  Or I can admit my mistake, assure them I have learned from it and communicate clearly to everyone what needs to happen.

I know which one's the right choice.  And I'm sure I'll make it once I have distance and sleep.

It's just so hard to make the right choice when you feel like the bad guy.

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