This summer we went to Disney World again, and spent a great deal of time in the Baby Care Centers, which happen to be right next to the lost child centers. Frog liked spending some time in the air conditioned areas of the Baby Care Center while waiting for me and Monkey. He also noticed a lot of lost children while we were in there. In fact, the two children remained in the lost children area for so long that they were still there when we revisited the Baby Care Center a second time– their “Big People” still hadn’t shown up to take them home! Frog and I talked about these two lost children, and were were a little surprised at how unprepared families were with dealing with getting lost. Maybe it’s the Den Mother in me (yes, didn’t you know that I’ve been Frog’s den leader since his first year in Cub Scouts?), but from my perspective, teaching your child how to handle getting lost is a critical skill. We have covered this repeatedly in Frog’s den, and it has been very beneficial. He knows what to do when he gets lost.
Several months ago, I was at a Cub Scout den meeting, talking to another mother and her 9-year-old son. We were discussing requirements for the next Cub Scout rank, and the mother explained that her son needed to complete the “Family Fun Night Requirement.” Her son looked at me, and said, “Well, I guess I won’t get my Bear Badge, I don’t have a family.” I’ve known this family for 5 years, and watched the parents struggle with their marriage, and their subsequent divorce. Overall, the parents did a great job working as a coparenting team, and I was impressed at how successful they were at working towards the best interests of their son. The dad moved into a house that was only 5 houses down the street from the mom, and the son seemed to be handling everything as well as could be hoped. Of course, it can be challenging to keep the delicate two-household equilibrium for a long period of time. About eighteen months ago, this child’s father was deployed to Afghanistan for nine months. Upon returning to the US, he was stationed another state, and is now about 7 hours away from his son. When I asked this child what he meant about not having a family, he said, “It’s just me and mom. Dad lives so far away now. I don’t have a real family.”