Andy straightened his neckerchief and grabbed his Webelos manual.
“Hurry, Andy! You’re going to be late,” his mother called from downstairs. He rushed down and out the front door.
“Bye, Mom!” he yelled as he hopped on his bike. In his last ward, his mom had driven him to the church every week for Scouts. It seemed so cool that now he could ride his bike just around the block to Sister Snow’s house for den meeting.
Sister Snow’s son, B.J., answered the door. Andy liked B.J., but B.J. always seemed to be looking over Andy’s shoulder, like he was hoping someone else would show up. B.J. led Andy to the family room where David, Tanner, Bryce, and Jemison were busy painting a poster. David looked up and smiled when Andy said hi.
All during the meeting Andy tried to be friendly to everyone, but especially to B.J. He wanted to have some friends in his new ward before school started. It would be easier to go to a new school if he already had friends.
When den meeting was over, Sister Snow said that the boys could stay and play together a little longer if they wanted to.
“Great!” B.J. said. “Let’s play a video game. You have to see this new one I got.”
Andy looked to see what game B.J. was putting on. With a sinking feeling, he realized it was not one his parents would let him play.
“What’s wrong?” David asked. All the boys turned to look at Andy.
“I was just wondering what other games you have,” Andy said to B.J.
“Why? Don’t you like this one?”
“It’s just—it’s just that …” Andy stammered, trying to make his voice work. “It’s just that my parents won’t let me play that game.”
B.J. laughed. “Oh. Well, that’s OK. We won’t tell them.”
Andy felt the other boys watching him. He said in a small voice, “I think maybe I’ll go home.”
Nobody said anything for a second. Then David said, “Hey, guys, let’s pick another game.”
“You could always stay and just watch, you know,” B.J. said.
Watching wasn’t the same as playing, was it? But, no, that didn’t feel right to Andy either. He felt all tight inside and wanted to cry. “No, I think I’d better not.”
“Better not what?” Sister Snow asked as she passed through the room. “What’s wrong, Andy?”
“Andy thinks his parents won’t let him play this game,” B.J. said.
“Wow, Andy. That’s really responsible of you to obey your parents even when they aren’t around.” Sister Snow smiled. Then she left. Andy had hoped she would make B.J. change the game. Now what would he do?
Finally B.J. said, “All right. Let’s just pick another one.” He put in a different game. Even though Andy was allowed to play it, he still felt lonely.
When he got home, Andy ran straight to his room. A few minutes later his father knocked on the door. “Andy? Can I come in?”
Andy rolled over and looked at the wall. “I guess,” he answered softly.
Andy’s dad came in and sat on the edge of the bed. “Sister Snow called,” he said. “She told me you followed our family rules and didn’t play the game the other boys chose.”
Andy shrugged. Then he looked up into his father’s face. He was smiling. “Andy, I am so proud of you.”
Hearing the love in his father’s voice made tears come into Andy’s eyes. “I thought about calling you or Mom. I thought maybe if I asked on the phone, you might let me play it.”
“So why didn’t you call us?”
“Because I knew what you would say. Then the other boys said I should just play it, because you would never know.”
“But you didn’t do that,” Dad said.
“No, but I almost did. The game looked really cool, and I felt like a baby not playing it. I can’t wait until I’m a teenager and can play those games.”
“Wait a minute,” Dad said. “Are you sure you’ll be playing them when you are a teenager?”
“But the rating was—”
“I know. But some things are still not good for us even when we are older. Your mother and I are both old enough to see any kind of movie, but we don’t because the Holy Ghost has told us that some movies aren’t good for us. We have rules for you now, but as you get older you’ll have to make rules for yourself—rules that will help you keep the Holy Ghost with you.”
“But it’s so hard to be left out,” Andy said.
“Let me tell you something that has helped me,” Dad said. “I have a best friend who helps me choose the right: Mom. We can always do good things together. Do you have any friends who might feel the same as you about video games?”
Andy thought about that. “Well, I think David might have been glad when they switched to another game.”
“It sounds like David is the kind of boy you might want to spend some more time with.”
“Yeah, maybe so. Dad, can I invite David over tomorrow?”
“OK,” Dad said. “I love you, buddy.” Dad rubbed Andy’s hair and left the room.
Andy sat on his bed for a few more minutes and thought about David. It would be nice to have a friend who didn’t want Andy to do what felt wrong.
Andy looked at the bare walls around his room and the moving boxes on the floor. He would call David right now. David was probably the right person to help Andy hang his posters up tomorrow.