Cheerful – A Scout is Cheerful. A Scout looks for the bright side of life. He cheerfully does tasks that come his way. He tries to make others happy.
“Oh no, was anyone seriously hurt? Do we need to go to the hospital?” Tad’s mom was talking on the phone, and her voice was getting higher and higher as it usually did when she was excited – the kind of excited when you’re getting really bad news. Like when Ms. Willows called home about Tad’s homework – that kind of bad news.
“We want to help any way we can. Keep us posted. Yes, we’ll be there tomorrow night. Okay, Ben, thanks for calling,” Mom said. Hey, Ben was Mr. Bolton, Tad’s den leader. That bad news was something to do with the den!
“What’s up, Mom? Sounded like you were talking to Mr. Bolton, and it didn’t sound like anything good,” Tad said, trying to keep his voice from squeaking.
“Very bad news, I’m afraid, son. Mr. Bolton called to tell us that Martin Reynosa and his mom were in an accident this afternoon. They both had to go to the hospital, but it looks like they’ll be okay. Ben asked all the parents to stay at the den meeting tomorrow night so we can discuss any needs that we can help with.” That meant that his friend, Marty, was laid up in the hospital and probably wouldn’t be able to play ball this weekend.
The next evening, Mr. Bolton updated everyone on the Reynosas’ condition. “It looks like Gloria is going to be in a wheelchair for a few weeks until she recovers from surgery. The broken leg appears to be the worst of her injuries, apart from cuts and brushes from the collision. Marty’s arm got trapped in the door, which they are assuming slammed back on it on impact.” Everyone winced at the description, imagining what Marty must have felt.
“He sustained quite a bit of damage to his elbow and forearm, which are going to take a lot of recovery time. The good news is the surgeon feels like his surgery went well. But Marty is not going to be able to use his left arm for some time. Another piece of good news – he’s right handed.” All the adults chuckled at Mr. Bolton’s joke. Tad was afraid this meant Marty wouldn’t be playing catch for a long time. “The plan for tonight’s meeting is to make a list of chores and divide them up between as many of us as can help out, to take the load off Gloria and Ramon.”
Mr. Bolton picked up the marker and asked one of the parents to keep track as they worked out a plan. Once a plan was put together, individual families began putting their names in the spaces by each item. Tad’s mom put the Cartwright name by one entire weekend of meals, laundry, household chores, and groceries. Each of the boys in the den put his name on afternoons to take Marty his homework and help entertain him for a little while to break up the long days being cooped up at home alone. The boys all discussed different games and activities that would allow Marty to stay relatively quiet but that he could probably manage with one hand.
After Marty and his mom were released from the hospital, the den put Operation Elbow into effect. The boys went by as scheduled and tried their best to think of things to do with Marty while his arm healed. When Tad’s mom went over, rather than cook more food, she cleaned out the fridge and they had a feast of leftovers, featuring her famous ‘kitchen sink pizza’. Mr. Reynosa proclaimed that it was the best pizza ever.
After Tad’s third visit, Mom caught him at the door. “Why so glum, chum? Last week you came back pretty excited about being able to cheer up a friend.”
“It’s not working, Mom. Marty refused to play checkers, wouldn’t even try to hold his cards for Old Maid, and thought my 4-way tic tac toe idea was stupid. It’s not like he had anything else to do, right? But my idea was stupid. I don’t want to go back anymore,” Tad said, looking at the floor.
“Poor Martin; looks like the weeks of isolation are catching up to him. He’s probably bored out of his mind! Let’s think about this, and see if there isn’t something we can do to change things up.”
At the next den meeting, Tad’s mom went with him armed with a box full of construction paper, scissors, markers, and glue. After Mr. Bolton called the group to order, Mom set out all her girlie stuff. Tad was keeping his fingers crossed that his mom didn’t embarrass him with some goofy craft project.
“Martin has been home long enough to be really stir crazy. So Tad and I were talking about shaking things up a little bit. How about you guys all help me to give Marty a ‘heart attack’?” None of the guys had a clue what that meant.
“Take construction paper and make a heart. On the back of the heart, write a joke. We’re going to attach them all over this big sheet of paper as one huge card – Marty’s heart attack. Each time he gets lonely, he can turn over one of the hearts and have a laugh attack,” she explained. It was such a goofy idea, it just might work. All the guys got busy making heart faces. Some drew faces with markers, some glued on googly eyes from Mom’s craft box. It was actually pretty fun. She even brought a stack of Boys’ Life magazines to raid the joke pages for good laughs.
After they got the card made, Mom said, “Next, we’re going to plan a surprise party. We’re going to think of as many games as we can play, and everyone is going to have one arm tied behind them, just like Martin.” For the rest of the meeting, everyone worked on ideas for the party. They drew a full-sized boy out of butcher paper and made a bunch of paper “arms” to play “Pin the Arm on Marty”. So far, it sounded like it was going to be okay, even if it was his mom’s idea.
The following Saturday, Tad and his mom picked up Marty and told him they were going to get some ice cream. Half-way to the ice cream shop, she suddenly said, “Oops, Tad, I forgot my wallet at home. Why don’t you boys run in and get it, and you can show Martin the trophy you won at the baseball tournament?”
Marty obviously didn’t want to go in, but he couldn’t very well refuse Mrs. Cartwright. Tad tried his best to keep a straight face. When they walked in the door, the entire den jumped out and yelled, “Surprise! Welcome to the One-Armed Bandit Party!” All the boys had one arm in a sling just like Marty’s, ready to play. Marty finally gave up trying to frown, and was grinning and laughing as everyone slapped him on the back and high-fived his good arm.
For the next two hours, the boys all tried their best to play games with one arm. Of course, Marty won most of the time because he had the most practice. They were all surprised how tough it was to do simple things like throw a Frisbee or catch a ball without being able to use the left arm for balance. Everyone took turns in the kitchen with Mrs. Cartwright rolling out gingerbread men and decorating them with one arm.
All the boys contributed ideas to a jar labeled “Things to Do When You’re Blue” and promised to help Marty go through them on their day to visit. They presented Marty with their Heart Attack card, and tried to act out the jokes they put on their cards by playing charades. When it was time to go home, the den formed a living circle around Marty and gave him a cheer.
When Mrs. Cartwright took Marty home, he hugged her and tried not to cry. “This was the best surprise ever, Mrs. C. I can’t wait to tell my mom all about it, and read all my jokes. You guys are the best.”
On the way home, his mom was humming to herself. That was a sure sign she was feeling good. Then she asked, “Well, son of mine, what did you think of our plan to cheer up your friend?”
“I think it worked great. He was a lot happier than when we picked him up, that’s for sure. Those were some pretty cool ideas,” Tad admitted. As Moms went, Tad figured his would get a pretty high approval rating. At least for today . . .