If they’d had a “badger your parents until they want to scream with frustration and wonder why they ever thought it was a good idea to sign their highly competitive child up for Girl Scouts, which has a badge for everything and darned if your kid doesn’t want to get every.last.one.of.them” badge, folks, I would have gotten it.
Danger Mouse and Boo Bug just joined up, Juniors and Brownies respectively (but the same troop) (unfortunately, they each meet every other Tuesday, which means every Tuesday for me).
I wasn’t exactly thrilled when Boo Bug began pestering me about joining the Scouts. I mean, I have sooooo much to do already. It’s another obligation. I now “have” to work from home every Tuesday, so that I can get whichever one there by 4:30. (Ugh.)
And…the badges. I remember what I put my parents through with the @*^&@ing badges. “I need paint for my Painting Random Stuff badge!” “I need glue for this...oh...uh...wait, cool! NOW I can get my 'Get Glue Off Shag Carpet' badge!!!” “I need to make quilt!” “I need to volunteer 600 hours at a rest home!” “I’ve got to build a suspension bridge across the Grand Canyon using nothing but this ball of twine, a Swiss Army knife, and the contents of a standard Army issue mess kit! Can you drive me dad, can ya huh, can ya, can ya, can ya?!”
I was slightly obsessed with the badges. I earned so many of them my last summer in the scouts that they refused to give me most of them at first on the basis that I must have been cheating. (I hadn’t been. Unless dedicating your entire family’s lives to the process for three solid months is considered ‘cheating.’)
Their vests arrived today, complete with the initial set of whatnots. The troop numbers, the American flag emblem, the council ID patch…the world pin…the “classic” Girl Scout pin…
I sat there and looked at it for the longest time. It looks exactly the way I remember it…only shiny and new, without the scrapes and dings that will come when, say, you fall off a horse trying (though warned with quotations not to) to do a standing up trick…or are crawling on your belly trying to sneak up on a fox (ya, good luck with that)…or you tell the bully to leave that little kid alone and he says, “Whaaaaa, you gonna make me, Girl Scout?” in a tone that clearly leads you to believe that perhaps he thinks a “Girl Scout” is somehow less than impressive, which clearly means it is time to wipe the grit off the pavement with his sneering, moist lips…
Yeah, uh…your pin will get a bit messed up. And bent. And maybe, just maybe, your mom will have to replace it. Once. Or twice. Or possibly four times. Or so. Because there’s also the “lost it” thing, which may have happened a time or two as well.
And the annual cookie sales, which in my time meant a red wagon loaded down with as many boxes as you could humanly pull, dragged girlfully behind you as you went from door to door. Hi I’m from troop 702 and would you like to buy some fresh Girl Scout Cookies they’re only $1.00 a box and the money goes to support the many character-building projects and programs of the Girl Scouts. (It haunts me in my sleep, sometimes…but I was one of the best sellers in my troop, y’all. Rain or shine, heat or sleet, I would be out there walking up and down the hills tugging that wagon behind me until I had sold every last box.) (Or my parents had anted up and bought them so I’d stop, already!!)
Funny, the things that will form us. I wasn’t an Uber Scout. I wasn’t even in scouting all that long, maybe five years – my brother, now, he went all the way to Eagle Scout over there in the (pffft!) Stinky-Old-Boy Scouts, thank you very much. It took a lot of hard work and dedication on his part. But my brother? He’s that kind of guy. He’s a straight arrow. He’s the guy you want to call when it’s all going to hell and you just don’t know what to do next. He’ll be there in a flash, and if he doesn’t know how to fix it – he knows a guy, who knows a guy.
Hard to believe he was a rotten, crummy, horrible, miserable, wretched, nerd-geek-goober all those years. (Coincidentally, they were the same years when my parents were stupid, ignorant, mean, vindictive, controlling jerks.) (Weird, huh, how they all got smarter and cooler over time…?)
ANYWAY. I did a lot of cool things because of Scouting. I learned a lot. Sure, I was motivated by the little colorful rounds but those badges required a lot of hands-on learning, reading, and getting out there and doing stuff.
As I was sitting there staring at the pin thinking of those young, young days (a bit wistfully, maybe), Boo Bug came skidding in, saw what I had, and let out a scream that shattered glass all over the house. In a twinkling, she had her vest on and had summoned (through the Mystic Sister Connection) Danger Mouse to my room as well. And she put on her vest and we pinned the stuff that doesn’t need to be sewn or ironed on and they danced and giggled and spun and there was joy and excitement and then they stopped, faced each other, put their fingers up in the Girl Scout salute, and pronounced:
On my honor, I will try:
To serve God and my country,
To help people at all times,
And to live by the Girl Scout law.
Oh, my. And then, with many a slip and flub, they giggled their way through the Law as well. (I finally had to look it up for them. They were killing me, but I wasn’t 100% sure I remembered it right, either.)
I will do my best to be
honest and fair,
friendly and helpful,
considerate and caring,
courageous and strong, and
responsible for what I say and do,
respect myself and others,
use resources wisely,
make the world a better place, and
be a sister to every Girl Scout.
Wow. Hard to believe how well I do remember it, all these years on. Had it all mixed up and had forgotten the ‘respect authority’ (heh, go figure) but…wow. Thirty years since the last time I said any of that, and yet I remembered it well enough to know when it was going horribly awry from the lips of two Scouts with vests so new and stiff they’d practically stand up all by themselves. (They will not stay that way for long…oooooooh no, they will not…)
But I think there needs to be a separate Promise for the former-Scout mother-of-scouts…
On my honor, I will try:
To quit bawling every time you say the Promise and Law,
To figure out how to sew on badges without bleeding on your vest,
To drive you to meetings without boring you silly with stories of how it was in MY day,
And to show you every day what it looks like, when you live by the Girl Scout law.
On my honor, I will try, my little ones…my children, my daughters, my sisters…
(But seriously, guys? Go easy on the badges. Unlike your grandmother, I will not have our lives utterly derailed by your neeeeeeeeeed to get the Save An Endangered Species Single Handedly badge…) (welllllllllllll…unless, of course, it’s an endangered sheep with silky long locks of rare spinning and knitting value, in which case I’m sure we could work something out…)