My neighborhood is usually inundated with scouts selling cookies. Not this year. Not a single knock on our door. Thankfully, the local grocery chain lets the girls sell cookies just inside their doors. A troop of scouts, about 10-12 years old, is set for sales when I arrive to restock our pantry.
While shopping, I dig two $10 bills from my purse and slip them into my pocket. When I exit the store, a box of thin mints – OK, I admit it, 2 boxes of thin mints – will be mine and I’ll still have enough left to leave a donation. (Local troops receive only 10-20% of cookie sales, but keep 100% of extra donations.)
At the risk of going broke, I confess that any child who arrives at my door asking me to purchase something makes a sale. Coupons I’ll never use, calendars I don’t need, flowers for my brown thumb, cookies I’ll surely inhale … it doesn’t matter what’s for sale. If a child knocks, I’m a customer.
But, I also make little rules for myself now and again. Today’s decree: I will not purchase any Girl Scout cookies unless one of the scouts asks for the sale. As I approach their cookie booth, six scouts swoop about two moms, a table piled with cookies, a cash box, and a donation jar. One of the moms catches my glance.
“Would you like to buy some cookies?” mom #1 inquires.
“I’ll only buy if one of the scouts ask.” As soon as the words leave my mouth I know it sounds judgmental.
“Ask her Emma,” mom #1 prods. Emma smiles. “Ask her,” mom #1 pushes. Emma frowns then retreats.
It’s not an ask, per se, but reasoning that both mom and Emma tried, I bend my resolve. Mom #1 takes my order and finds the cookies. Mom #2 takes my money and makes change. One of the moms tosses thanks my way as the Girl Scouts, all six of them, continue to cavort with each other, whispering and playing. I leave with the extra donation jammed in my pocket.
Cookie sales are just shy of a 100 year old tradition for Girl Scouts, and a key component for financing activities. Troops are asked to abide by strict safety guidelines when selling cookies. (See FAQ: Selling Cookies, Ensuring Safety) No matter the scout’s age, an adult must accompany girls during booth sales. Parental presence ensures scout protection and inventory/cash security. I understand the need for all these rules.
As a worldwide, youth organization, Girl Scouting touches all aspects of a young woman’s life – as a learning ground for life skills, a leadership training ground, and a source of positive female role models and friends.
The Girl Scout mission is to “build girls of courage, confidence, and character, who make the world a better place” (GirlScout.Org).
Perhaps I’m overstepping my assumptions, but it seems pretty tough to improve the world, if you can’t speak to people, or find the correct box of cookies, or make change, or say thank you.
I bought a box of cookies, but I wish my encounter was different. I wish the scouts engaged in the sale. I wish the moms stood in the background as the scouts made change, found the box of cookies and handed it to me. I wish the scouts expressed thanks for the sale.
I wanted to support the Girl Scouts. If I wanted to purchase expensive cookies from an adult, I would buy something from the store.
Are you the parent of a scout? Let’s work together to encourage helicopter scout-parent detox.
The Girl Scouts have their own laws to guide behavior (GirlScout.Org). Perhaps their parents need a few behavioral guidelines, too.
- As the parent of a scout, I will do my best to … respect my scout’s need to learn how to do things for herself so she can truly achieve the scouting mission.
- As the parent of a scout, I will do my best to ... observe my scout’s activities from a safe distance using only my guidance controls and radar to monitor her safety.
I’m a recovering ‘copter mom and a clearly judgmental cookie customer. I like the cookies, and I was a girl scout, but I didn’t raise my own girl scout. I’m just a mom trying to observe and respect my children’s need to do things for themselves.
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