1980
Such Goot, Goot Boys!
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“Such Goot, Goot Boys!” Ensign, Feb. 1980, 17

“Such Goot, Goot Boys!”

To an observer, it may have seemed strange when Oma, my plump middle-aged grandmother, was asked to be a den mother. She isn’t much taller than the average nine- or ten-year-old, and her accent then was even heavier than it is now. Even I, who knew about some of Oma’s hidden talents, was a bit worried.

The Cubs were my age; as a girl in their school class, I knew what they were like. Billy Lambert, for one, was a constant aggravation to Miss Perkins, our fourth grade teacher. He was always into things, always snapping his fingers and calling out, “Teacher! Teacher! I know! I know!” He didn’t do his work but just doodled pictures of dinosaurs all over everything. And he talked, talked, talked!

“Billeeee!” Miss Perkins would say. “Oh, you exasperate me.”

Billy alone would have been a handful, but there were seven more Cub Scouts who, in my estimation, were also pretty mischievous. Real bear cubs, I felt, would be less trouble than this group of boys. But I had something to learn about Oma—and so did they.

“Dese boys are special, wonderful boys,” she told me. “I have a big job and I am afraid. I know nutting of Scouting. But I will do my best.”

Because the boys deserved only the best, Oma planned wonderful things for them: games, field trips, and all kinds of special activities. One day they got permission to go to a pond Oma had heard about, and each boy caught polliwogs. They took them home, put them in buckets, and watched them develop into frogs. “Frogs will be yumping in our neighborhood for many years,” Oma proclaimed.

Once in a while I would sit on the stairs that led to our unfinished basement (where they met) to listen and watch—and be amazed. Oma looked funny in her uniform, but the boys didn’t seem to notice. There was only an occasional push or argument, and even Billy seemed happy and excited. He still talked a lot, but it didn’t seem to bother Oma. After the meeting was over, Oma would join me on the step and wipe the perspiration from her forehead. Then she would remove her cap and shake her damp white hair. “Oh dey are goot boys,” she’d say with a laugh. “So full of energy.”

Because Oma staunchly expected the best from them, she got results. Soon our basement was a smooth-running Cub Scout den filled with boys eager to earn badges—boys with goals.

My husband and I went to visit Oma just recently and she showed us a letter from Billy Lambert. “He is a professor now, you know, and a bishop. Oh, so smart and so fine. Some of my Cubs still write me and I dem. Dey wrote me from dere missions and dey sent me invitations when dey marry in de temple, and dey still write. I told dem once, ‘When I am old, I will be so proud to see you grown into fine men.’ Dey didn’t let me down. Dey are fine, goot men.” She sighed. “But den, I expected it. Dey were such goot Cubs. Such goot, goot boys.”

“Yes, I guess they were at that,” I agreed, smiling. “But full of energy!”

“Yes,” Oma said with a little laugh.

We sat reminiscing in silence until I noticed a movement just past Oma’s lawn chair near the pyracantha bush. “Well, what do you know?” I said. “It’s a little frog.”

  • Anya C. Bateman, a homemaker, serves as Relief Society Social Relations teacher in the Butler Twenty-seventh Ward, Salt Lake City.