For the past two years, I've been the Daisy Girl Scout leader and our troop meetings have been held at our house, every other Wednesday night, from 5:30 to 6:45. For as crazy and insane as it could be having 10 kindergarten - and then, 1st grade girls at our house - I loved it.
(After it was over.)
However, because I was busy working full-time, I didn't have a lot of time to plan the meetings so I was usually flying by the seat of my pants, scrambling to pull together our activities minutes before the girls would start arriving in waves. Every meeting we'd sing songs and dance and read books and make cards for a loved one associated with our troop. We called it "Operation Sunshine" and for the first 20 minutes or so, when everyone would arrive and were
It's really incredible when you think about it - because every single person in your life is undoubtedly going through something, or knows someone who is going through something, and we never had a shortage of people who could use some well wishes from our little troop. Once all our cards were made up, we'd put them in a big envelope that we'd decorate and smother with kisses and happy thoughts, and send it home with whomever had requested the"Sunshine."
(If you ever find yourself leading a Girl or Cub Scout troop - I'd definitely suggest this exercise that helps build compassion among the children, and keeps them happily busy for a solid 20 minutes.)
Last year, I had a co-leader who was much more organized than me. Actually, I'm pretty organized, but she was prompt about sending e-mails and responding to e-mails and eh, I'm almost as bad about responding to e-mails as I am to telephone messages. This past Spring, when she was at her wits end because I was not on par with her planning schedule, she suggested that WE no longer lead the troop. Granted, I wasn't great about corresponding but I consistently held the meetings at our house - consistently made snacks - consistently tried to keep things going. In addition, because I was volunteering my time, I was able to funnel more than $1,000.00 worth of corporate grants from my employer in to our little troop (that in addition to our cookie sales profits).
Nonetheless, my co-leader thought the girls deserved more than what we were giving them so she strongly encouraged we step down. My feelings were hurt so I said fine. I'll step down and let someone else lead the troop. Oddly enough, once the sting wore off, I started to feel really good about the decision that she'd talked me in to. Leading a troop IS a lot of work and can be very taxing if you are also working full-time.
Well guess what happened next?
NO ONE stepped forward to lead the troop. I didn't want the girls to disband, but remained quiet while people figured out what they wanted to do. After about four weeks, one of the [other] mothers slowly came forward and hesitantly volunteered. And I hesitantly signed up to be her co-leader because I know how much work it is and I couldn't stand to see her go it alone without any parental support.
During our first meeting last night when the girls were acting exactly as you'd expect second grade girls to act after having been cooped up in school all day, she asked, "HOW IN THE WORLD DID YOU NOT TOTALLY LOSE YOUR COOL?"
I don't know. It's a miracle, really.
One of the girls in the troop is one of seven children. She is the sweetest little kid and her mother is a very nice woman who seems completely overwhelmed. They are always 30 minutes late arriving to the meetings and almost always 30 minutes late leaving. When the troop meetings were at our house, I could almost always count on this little girl staying for dinner with us because her parents wouldn't be there to pick her up yet. Two years ago, after several meetings, I happened to notice that she wasn't wearing her Girl Scout tunic so asked where it was? As far as my daughters were concerned, one of the best parts of Girl Scouting was the whole wearing of their uniforms and proudly displaying their hard-earned patches. I remembered that her family had purchased her a tunic, I'd just never seen her wear it.
But after I inquired, the very next meeting, she brought it and she handed me all of her patches that had been collected in a small plastic bag. She told me that her mother didn't know how to sew and is there anyway I could put on her patches?
Here's the thing: I'm not a sewer either. In fact, I would delay putting on my own children's patches until the night before the meeting because I dislike sewing THAT much. But I felt sorry for this little girl who would be patch-less if someone didn't help her out so I said "Yes, of course. I'd be happy to sew them on!" I'm not sure why it surprised me, but after I sewed on the first round of patches, she brought them to me every time. When she bridged to Brownies last year and I took off her Daisy tunic and replaced it with the Brownie sash, it struck me that I affixed every single one of the patches that graced that child's tunic.
In addition to every single one of the patches that graced MY children's tunics.
SO, last night, when she arrived at Girl Scouts and she climbed out of her mother's van 30 minutes late, she handed me her BROWNIE sash and a bag full of new patches and said, "Here. Can you sew these on for me?" Having spent no less than TWO HOURS sewing on my own children's patches the night before, I took the bag and looked her mother square in the eye and said, "You know, I'm really not someone who ENJOYS sewing and that 100-year anniversary patch took me almost 30 minutes to put on TIMES two... "
Maybe it's just me, but I was really thinking that the mom would take my hint and say, "Oh right, what are we asking you to do? You work full time and have four children and coordinate the troop! SO SORRY!!" But she didn't do that. Instead, she said, "I'm not crafty at all!!" Then she hopped in her car and drove away. As she did, her sweet daughter smiled up at me with a toothless grin and ....
When the NEW troop leader saw me standing holding a bag of patches, I thought for a moment that since I'm no longer the #1 troop leader, maybe I'll unload these patches on HER and ask for her to sew them on for our little friend with the un-crafty mother? Alas, when I told her the situation, she was dumb-struck. YOU HAVE BEEN SEWING ON HER PATCHES FOR TWO-YEARS?
YOU'RE KIDDING, RIGHT?!
When I told her that no, I wasn't kidding ... she launched in to rant how I need to tell that mother that ABSOLUTELY NOT, I will NOT sew on her daughter's patches and if she is having a difficult time sewing them on then she can take them to the dry cleaners and they'll affix them for $5.00 per patch. She gave me a stern look and said, "We have to teach you how to say NO!"
She glared at me and said, "Say it!"
Fast forward 10 minutes, she is telling me that her seven-year-old daughter is really struggling with tying her shoes and can't seem to grasp the concept. So she asked me if I'd be willing to help teach her daughter how to tie her shoes? "Sure!" I answered. "Maybe we could have that be the basis for one of our troop meetings...."
That's when she SMACKED me in the arm and said, "THAT WAS A TEST!! You were supposed to say, 'NO!!" Then she extracted the bag of patches from my hand and said, "Together, you and me, are going to tell the mother during the next meeting that she'll have to find some other way to get these patches on her daughter's tunic."
Alternatively, maybe I could just staple them on for her?