To Troop or Not To….. by Peggy Bogaard-Lapp
This fall, we have had a dilemma – Erica’s Girl Scout troop has disbanded, and now we are debating whether to join another group or be our own troop, just the two of us. While I like the idea of her interacting with other girls in troop fashion, I also can see how it is hard for her to be with girls she does not know. Around her friends and family, she has a dynamic personality, full of laughter and creativity. But she is secretly shy. I was very shy, even more that she is, and it took me way too long to get past it. Being shy isn’t a bad thing; in fact it’s sort of a defense against the world. It helps to slowly move into relationships, rather than jump in fully, which can sometimes be a mistake. I certainly understand her being hesitant to jump right in. I was not in Girl Scouts ad a kid, but I secretly want to be one now!
So, looking at both joining another group or going out on our own, I realized two things: I enjoy spending time with her, and we enjoy the same things (mostly – I’m not really that into Monster High) and the days we can spend together will dwindle as she gets closer to her teens. I try to think back to what my mother and I did together, alone – and I don’t come up with much. Shopping, rarely, and cooking, occasionally. She was crafty, and made all of my clothes up to the seventh grade. When I hit high school and had home economics class she was more excited than I was. She and her sewing machine were one; I never was able to get it to run a stitch. In fact, her sewing machine sits in my office, reminding me of my failed attempts at an apron, or book bag. My Home Ec teacher showed mercy after seeing how inept I was with needle and thread, giving me a passing grade while knowing that mom had done the stitches for me. I’m still working up the courage to try sewing the pile of scout badges on Erica’s Girl Scout vest. Unfortunately, I’m not going to be teaching Erica to sew. Ever. Well, maybe sewing on a button. Maybe.
I’m hoping to balance out the troop issue by sometimes joining in the group activities, but doing it on our own actually seems fun. Now that summer is faded into memory, we can take a few hours on Sunday afternoons and pick an activity. She still wants to sell cookies, which surprises me. Being in a troop will give her a connection to community that the two of us alone won’t have. Today’s Girl Scouts are much more about self esteem, leadership and helping others than ever before. I’m teaching her these things, but doing them alongside girls her age gives it a different meaning. So I guess there is the balance. Like everything in life, learning needs to come from more than one place.