Be Prepared
by Eva Robinson


“Nick, I think you would make a great father.” Natalie said as she
sipped her coffee. Nick had dropped in for a visit and found her reading
an article about the lack of Big Brothers. Some how the discussion had
turned to parent hood. “Just look at all the time you’ve had to review
the mistakes each generation has made. You would make sure you didn’t
repeat them.” She was smiling and he was scowling.

“Nat, I love being around kids. The more kids the merrier. In fact, my
happiest times were when I was surrounded by my cousins and their
friends. There would be dozens of us, young and old, just having fun.”
The door opened and Grace entered. She was smiling.

“Well, looks like my timing is perfect! Here are my two favourite people
talking about how much they love to be around children, and I have the
perfect opportunity for them!” Grace swept in and put her arm around
Nick. Natalie began to have that ‘oh,oh’ feeling.

“What’s up Grace?” Nick asked. He liked Grace too much to believe she
would ever stoop so low as to use them.

“Well, since you asked, my brother Carl needs some help.” She turned to
Natalie and gave her that ‘innocent lamb’ look.

“Carl? Your baby brother?” Nick asked. He had met Carl last year. He may
have been four years younger than Grace, but he made Grace look small.
Carl was the only man Nick had ever met that reminded him of a mountain
on the move. He was 6’6” and weighed almost 250 pounds. And was as
gentle as a lamb.

“Yes, my ‘baby’ brother. You remember me telling you he joined Scouts
when my nephew Jamie joined? Well, his three helpers are away and he
needs help for craft night. Now, I know that tomorrow is an off night
for both of you, but it’s only 1 1/2 hours: from 6:30 to 8:00. You’ll
have the rest of the evening to yourselves.” Grace looked from Nat to
Nick and back again. “Please say you’ll help.”

Nick looked at Nat and they both smiled at Grace.

“Sure,” Nick said. “If it’s only an hour and a half, then it’s no
problem. Right Nat?”

“Sure. Where are we to meet?” she asked Grace, still feeling somewhat
cautious.

“David Appleton Centre, on Pritchard Ave. I’ll call Carl and tell him
you’ll be there.”

Grace gave them both hugs and started out the door.

“Grace,” Nick called after her, “How many kids does your brother have in
the group?”

“About 25. 25 boys, 5 and 6 years old.”

Nick groaned, while Natalie held her head.

The next night they arrived by 6:15 at the Centre. Already almost all
the boys were there, racing around the gym, tossing balls and playing
tag. At the table, marking the boys attendance, stood the mountain they
knew as Carl. He beamed a grin at them when they entered. As Nick went
through the door, a soft foam ball careened off his head. Natalie ducked
the next one.

“Beavers!” Carl’s voice echoed in the gym. “Balls away, get ready for
River Banks”. In a flash, 25 bodies were running in different
directions, and in a moment they were sitting almost quiet in straggly
rows.

“Now,” Carl began, “we have some visitors tonight. Malek, Rusty and Tic
Tac can’t be here, so Mr. Knight and Ms. Lambert have offered to help.
But they need names. So what shall we call them?”

A small projectile launched it’s self at Nicks’ legs.

“He’s got yellow hair!” the shrill voice bellowed, ”Lets call him
Sunshine!” The rest yelled their agreement.

“OK, Tony, Sunshine it is for Mr. Knight. Now, what about Ms. Lambert?”

“How about Bubbles?” Yelled another boy. Soon the names were struck:
Sunshine and Bubbles.

Natalie looked at Nick. “I’m gonna get Grace for this!”

Before long Carl had the boys in a circle and started the opening:
“Who are we? And what do we do?” he asked the boys.

“BEAVER! BEAVERS! BEAVERS! SHARING! SHARING! SHARING! WHOOP!” and 25
boys leapt into the air and clapped their hands behind their backs.

“Hawkeye!!!! Sunshine didn’t slap his tail!” One of the boys called out.

Nick felt himself blushing. Natalie almost broke out in laughter.

“Sunshine has never done our Opening before,” Carl explained. “Next time
he’ll know.”

Then it was craft time.

Carl assigned Nat and Nick each to a group of boys. Natalies’ group was
doing hand print painting on a long roll of paper. It took them all of 5
minutes to have themselves covered in paint. Five minutes after that,
Natalie looked down to see splotches of blue, green and pink all over
her shoes. ‘Thank god it’s water based.’ she thought to herself.

“Bubbles,” one of the boys asked, “can we hand paint the wall too?” She
was almost too late to stop him.

Nick’s group was making Beaver boxes. It was supposed to be simple:
paint the shoe box blue, cut out and colour the beaver picture and paste
it on. The painting part was easiest; all Nick had to do was keep the 8
paint brushes from ending up on the floor with the 8 paint pots. Then
came the cutting and pasting.

“SUNSHINE!! I can’t cut this out! Can you help me?” Soon all eight boys
were hanging all over Nick, pressing their beaver pictures at him and
their scissors.

Nick glanced over at Nat in time to see her pluck a boy from diving
across the hand painting. She had paint on her face, shirt and shoes.
The look in her eyes was frantic. Then he looked at Carl. He had nine
bodies hanging off him as explained how to do a lacing projected. ‘He’s
got the youngest ones!’ Nick realised, ‘Nat and I got the ‘experienced’
Beavers. Oh Joy!’

It was the longest hour and a half in Nicks life.

Finally, Carl lifted his hand and called: ”Beavers” Like magic, 25 boys
stood still and fell silent.

“Time to clean up and get ready for our Closing.” he said gently, and 25
boys lined up for hand washing with Nat while Nick and he put away the
paints and cleaned up any paint from the floor.

Soon they were back in their groups. ‘Lodges’ Nick thought to himself,
‘they are called Lodges’. He smiled.

Carl called out River Banks, and the kids formed up the two ragged lines
with Nick and Nat about midway up each.

“Don’t forget to slap your tail, Sunshine!” Tony said tugging on Nicks’
pant leg. “We got to do it right!”

Soon they were in the circle: “Sleeping! Sleeping! Sleeping! WHOOP!”
they all chanted, then jumped. Nick remembered to clap his hands behind
his back, then he smiled at Tony.

“I remembered.” he said to the boy. Tony grinned.

Then it was over. 25 bodies flew out of the room like small hurricanes.
Nick and Nat were noticeably frazzled, but Carl looked completely
un-phased by it all.

“Thanks Nick, Nat. I owe you both big time for this.” he said. “Good
thing the boys were well behaved tonight. I have a couple of new ones
who are real handfuls, but they weren’t out tonight.”

“Well,” Nat said, “it’s been an experience. You do this for free?”

Carl laughed.

“Do you know how many people ask me that?” he said.

When it was over, Natalie slumped in the front of the caddy. Nick joined
her.

“How about just movies and popcorn tonight?” he asked.

“Sounds great.” she groaned.

A week later Grace found them together again.

“Well, look who’s here!” she exclaimed. “My brother Carl called. He said
something about a sleep over at Sky Dome with about 500 Beavers. You
guys interested?”

Natalie stood up, took Grace gently by the arm and escorted her out the
door. Nick followed close behind and locked it.

The End