It’s that time of year again. The “Be A Scout!” signs are all over town with our phone number written on them, and I’m taking random calls several times a day from people interested in Cub Scouts, Boy Scouts, Girl Scouts and even Toddler Scouts.
For the record, Toddler Scouts does not exist.
And we don’t have any Girl Scouts here. I don’t have the Girl Scouts’ phone number. All the children on the “Be A Scout!” signs are BOYS.
(Note to the National Boy Scout Council: It would be really great if you’d spring for the extra ink needed to print “Be A Cub Scout!” on your Cub Scout recruiting signs. That would save all of us moms who answer phone calls a whole lot of trouble.)
I’m used to moms of kindergartners asking if the Cub Scouts has a program for their boys, since the Girl Scouts has created the Daisy program for five-year-old girls. But today’s phone call takes the cake.
A mom called, saying, “I got this number from the Scout sign and I was wondering if my son is old enough for Scouts yet.”
“How old is your son?” I asked. “Cub Scouts begins with first-graders, in our Tiger Scout program.”
In a disappointed tone, she answered, “He’s three and a half.”
Picking up my chin off the floor, I told her, “We don’t have anything for boys that age. We’ll be happy to see him when he’s in first grade, though.”
I wish I’d kept her on the phone and told her not to rush things with her little boy. I wouldn’t have been sarcastic, saying things like “Cub Scouts don’t wear Pull-Ups.” But a three-year-old is so young. He doesn’t need structured group activities like Cub Scouts yet. He needs time to dig in the sandbox and push Tonka Trucks around and dance silly dances to ’80s tunes and run around and kick beach balls and build with Legos and color with crayons and learn to eat with a fork. (OK, Little Brother still needs to work on that last skill. But you get the idea.)
I feel kind of sad for this mom and her little boy. It’s not that I don’t think Cub Scouts would be good for him. I’m a firm believer in just how good Cub Scouting (and Boy Scouting) can be for a boy. But I’m also a firm believer in not overcommitting children, especially very little children. When Big Brother (my Eagle Scout) was three and a half, he wasn’t even in pre-K yet. So far, his lack of a full slate of early-childhood activities has not seemed to have any ill effects upon his intellect, achievement, or ability to make friends.
I wish I’d told this mom to let her little boy enjoy being three and a half. There’s plenty of time for Cub Scouts later.