Update: This post was voted as a 2011/2012 GirlGuidesCANblog Big Deal Seal winner in the category ‘Oh My Guides’! Bravo blogger Kelly!
Note: this post originally appeared in the Wellington Advertiser in Kelly’s column “Write Out of Her Mind,” a humour feature about family life in a small community.
When I was eight years old, I promised to do my best, to do my duty, to God, the Queen and my country. I was a Brownie, in a brown canvas dress with an orange and white maple-leaf scarf tied at the neck and a gold-buckled belt. I belonged to the Sprites, and if I got all my badges and hung in until a certain age I would be a bona fide Girl Guide. Oh yes, I was all that and a bag of chips.
My mother, bless her sweet guidance, suffered mother’s guilt for working full-time. To help reduce this, she often supported my extra-curricular activities by volunteering. Sucker. Lucky for me, she knew I needed her too. I was a gangly, awkward, four-eyed girl and I needed help to navigate the world around me, more than most perhaps. She didn’t let me down. She over-achieved. Within weeks of signing me up for Brownies, my talented, totally organized mother was quickly coerced into becoming our fearless Brownie leader “Brown Owl,” a title she took to heart with a rather competitive streak to make our Brownie pack the coolest in our region. We totally were, the coolest I mean. Toowit, toowhoo!
So, when my son asked to join the Cub Scouts, I was supportive. Anything that gets a boy active and away from video games and television is worth it. Besides, I can see he is much like his father, the Carpenter, and this means he needs to do manly, guy stuff like nailing stuff to other stuff, or digging stuff up, or the all important task of gathering sticks to make huge bon fires that he will spend countless hours fussing over, just to get the coals to a perfect orange hue for roasting the perfect marshmallow. For this obsessive masculine behaviour he will be rewarded with the almighty badge, in an honour system that encourages him to connect with nature, and doesn’t involve the bribery of candy or cash. That works for me.
When my son came home with his first badge for carpentry, I don’t know who was more excited. What I didn’t expect was the ineptitude I would feel. Oh sure, I was thrilled with the badge, but now I had to admit yet another mommy flaw: I don’t know how to sew. Not a button, or a stitch, and certainly, not a badge. I don’t own a sewing kit. Ugh. By today’s standards, I would have to revoke my Brownie status.
There was no hiding the truth. I was going to have to fess up. Worse still, I was going to have to find someone who could sew, and fast. Can you imagine the humiliation I would have to endure for admitting this to another mother? Scouts honour, all I wanted to do was glue those badges on and see if anyone noticed.
Imagine my surprise to learn that my son was sending his grandmother secret emails, with adorable pleas for assistance to sew his badges onto his Cub uniform. He didn’t trust me to sort it out. Who could blame him? But Grandma could do it. Grandma can do anything. It’s true.
I wasn’t insulted. I was relieved. Nobody understands the pressure of a working mom better than my retired mom.
Looks like my mom is still helping me navigate this world.
By Guest blogger Kelly Waterhouse, a freelance writer (and former Brownie) in Elora, Ontario where she is busy raising her family while raising her career. Kelly is the weekly columnist behind “Write Out of Her Mind,” a humour feature about family life in a small community, seen weekly in the Wellington Advertiser where this piece originally appeared.
What do you think about the task of sewing badges on blankets and sashes? Is it really that difficult ? Share your comments! We’d love to hear from you.