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The Mom rather enjoyed her days as the Brownie Leader from what I can remember, though I will note here that when I was in Brownies, she was not the leader. She only did that for L’il Sis. When I had to go to Brownies, I was on my own. For the most part.

I do believe the only way The Mom got me to go along to those things was because my friend from swim team was there. Wendy was very much a saving grace in my world.

The Mom would drop me off in my brown uniform that I did not care for and into the church basement I would go for organised fun, which is not the kind of fun I care for, generally speaking. And we would sit quietly in circles (again, not a fan) and do all kinds of things that made such a lasting impression I’ve forgotten them now. I do, however, remember the badges, and the rather jaunty sash to which they were attached. I don’t remember getting many of those,but I have a faint memory of getting the swimming one, and maybe the sewing one, but that was probably because The Mom did my homework.

I remember a lot of skipping around in a circle that, upon reflection, has a distinct air of cultiness to it.

I remember Girl Guides more. Mostly because the uniforms were designed by Simon Chang, who, to hear The Mom tell it, was quite the fashion designer. In fact, I seem to remember that she used to borrow the navy blue skirt that formed the bottom half of the uniform and was very confused by the fact that I didn’t like it at all. I didn’t wear skirts or dresses in those days. Track pants only. And usually my swim team ones.

We had to go on a camping weekend with Girl Guides and I was not having any of it. Again, The Mom told me that Wendy would be going and since I liked Wendy and generally had an excellent time with her, it would probably be okay. It was not. We slept in a tent in the cold and the rain, and I had to eat my funny allergy food and I do not recall there being any swimming. And I remember the other girls who were not Wendy were not to my liking. I’m sure they were very fine people, but maybe they didn’t want to talk about Nancy Drew books and swimming, or join Wendy and I in the numerous games we’d invented between ourselves in the early hours of Saturday mornings when we had sleepovers. We played one called ‘treasure hunt’ that involved writing clues and hiding things around the house. Took us most of the day to complete. Fantastic game. I keep trying to get The Mom’s nine-year old neighbour interested in it, but she’s having none of it.

I graduated to Pathfinders, which is Girl Guides for teenagers, and The Mom insisted I attend because it was good for me to go and meet new friends. The interesting thing about that notion is that I had not yet succeeded in making new friends at either Brownies or Girl Guides so it seems foolish for her to have thought there may still be some hope left.

A couple of my other very good friends went to Pathfinders and they loved it – they went camping and then met some boys from whatever it was that was like Pathfinders but for boys. I’d dropped out by then because I got a bit aggressive with this other girl who’d either said or done something I couldn’t tolerate.

I think The Mom would’ve very much enjoyed attending any and all of these evening meetings in my stead. I preferred swimming because we did a bit of comaraderie at the beginning and then some chatting in the showers, but other than that I was on my own and happy for it. I suppose, not having had siblings, The Mom thought that this being in large groups of strangers was great fun for most everybody else, that she was maybe missing out on something. But I tell you, and I think I speak on behalf of other people with siblings: the greatest gift you can give a kid with brothers and sisters kicking around is time alone.

There’s also the relentless chirpiness of these organised groups that sets my teeth on edge. I suspect it didn’t bother me quite as much when I was younger, or I knew better than to say something, but I tell you, the thought of it now… Well, you won’t find me putting my name down for being a Brownie Leader any time soon.

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