Tag Archives: Girl Scouts

Alone Together (Or Not)


Normally Kathy and I “write blind” – that is, we select a topic, write our pieces, and then compare notes. For this post, however, I read hers first. And I am so glad I did because our perspectives could not be more different.

With two small people the challenges of keeping them both happy multiply. Don’t get me wrong, there are times when I’m doing a puzzle with Lunchbox and Slim is playing in her room, or when Slim and I are working on her homework and Lunchbox is playing on his iPad or goofing off with Dreamy. These bursts of relative contentment last only as long as someone’s good mood, unfortunately, and Dreamy and I constantly drift back and forth between the two kids. Thus we don’t have the same type of togetherness as what Kathy describes; ours is more fluid and free-flowing.

Together time can be better managed by splitting up – a way for parent and child to bond without completely wiping out said parent’s energy. While not ideal, it is a good strategy for some activities and errands. Dreamy will take Slim to a Girl Scout event, for example, while Lunchbox and I go to the park or to get the groceries. They each get a parent to themselves (win!) and this sort of concentrated one-on-one time works best with my introversion (win!). Plus, sometimes I find it overwhelming doing things as a foursome given the age, gender, and temperament differences between Slim and Lunchbox (and shoot, let’s be real here, sometimes between Dreamy and me).  But that’s a subject for another post.

The idea of “alone together” time is lovely in theory but in practice it often doesn’t work at my house. Sometimes, though, particularly with Slim, we can pull this off, such as cuddling in bed at night, each engrossed in our own books. And I as I write this, Lunchbox is jamming away on the Wii. So even though the Mario Kart music is blasting in my ear, he’s happily in his own universe while I’m toodling along in mine.   

This gives me hope for the future.  As Slim careens towards the Tween Years, I want for us to do things together, to have a shared interest. We both like baking and maybe a cake decorating class is in our future. Same goes for Lunchbox – he and I can resume our mini-nature hikes in the spring if he decides to begin wearing pants on the regular.

Until then we shall muddle through. With earplugs, because I really hate Mario Kart.


Leadership in Lowercase

KathyAfter the recent brouhaha over Sheryl Sandberg’s Ban Bossy campaign, I looked over the website’s materials for girls, parents, and teachers. There’s a lot of good stuff there, urging girls to speak up about what’s important to them and giving adults strategies for helping them be heard.

I wouldn’t be sorry to see the word bossy fade away. I can see that fear of being called something negative could make some girls reluctant to speak up. But my bigger issue is with a word that’s all over the materials created by Sandberg and the Girl Scouts, who are co-sponsoring the campaign: Leadership.

I haven’t read Sandberg’s book Lean In, but I know she wants more women to hold positions of power in the corporate world. In the “Leadership Tips for Girls” handout on the Ban Bossy website, these numbers are front and center: Women make up just 19% of Congress, 17% of corporate boards, and 5% of Fortune 1,000 CEO positions. I don’t like those numbers any more than she does – I’d love to see women equally represented in government and business.

However. Not everyone wants to be that kind of leader. Obviously those big-ticket positions are not her only goal – there are many possible stepping stones or stopping points, so I’ll say this, too: Not everyone wants to be the director of a library division (a possible career trajectory for me if I hadn’t changed my path). Not everyone wants to be the head room parent for her daughter’s class.

A friend sent me this article from The Atlantic in response to Ban Bossy, which points out (again) that introverts can be excellent leaders, thank you very much. “[S]ome girls prefer to plot their world domination quietly,” notes Olga Khazan.

I agree with her that some tips in the handout for girls seem anti-quiet. #1, Speak Up in Class, with the added instruction of “Avoid editing what you want to say in your head” beforehand. Wha? Thanks for invalidating my entire thinking process.

Others, though, I really like. #7, Trust Your Inner Voice, recommends keeping a journal if you don’t want to share your thoughts out loud. Or #5, Don’t Do Everyone Else’s Work, which is essential for group projects at school but also a good reminder for parents who need to resist picking up everyone else’s dirty socks.

That’s where I think the emphasis on Leadership is missing the mark: these are not leadership tips, they’re life tips. The handout is full of techniques for being true to yourself and navigating relationships. Girls and boys should know this stuff. But I disagree that the logical next step after #3, Challenge Yourself, is Run Something.

Maybe you’d rather make jewelry, or research cures for cancer, or introduce kids to J. K. Rowling, or be the next J. K. Rowling.

Maybe you’d rather blog.

The handout notes that our society hasn’t quite figured out how powerful it wants girls to be. But there’s more than one way to be powerful, and I’m afraid some girls will read these materials and hear “Your way is wrong.” That’s not a message I want to send to my daughter, or to anyone else’s.

— Kathy

Fun, Fun, Fun?

In which the Moms attend a fun fair and live to tell the tale.

KathyThe scene: a fall fun fair hosted by Doodlebug and Princess Slim’s Girl Scout troop. Bean bag toss. Find-the-penny-in-the-hay. Food sales. Bunches of kids hopped up on sugar. An introvert’s ultimate nightmare, right?

But not for me. Or so I thought. Because I have this thing down now. I’m being smart about my time this year. Yes, I got sucked into going to Costco for food, but I said no to other jobs I thought would be draining. Most importantly, I knew I could take the afternoon off when it was all over. (Thank you, iDad!)

During the fun fair, I was fine. I chatted. I helped. I grumbled a little with Tiffany, but only a little, I swear! On the way home, though, I could feel the energy, adrenaline, faux-extroversion, whatever-it-was that had powered me through the past five hours draining away. And I spent the rest of the day feeling tired, cold, achy, and mildly nauseated. I was useless.

I’ve been there before, that completely used-up place. Not lately, though, not to that extent. I guess I’d started to think I wouldn’t have to be there again. I’ve spent so much time writing for this blog, talking about being an introvert with my friends and family, coming up with ways to honor and respect my personality that I thought maybe I was… what, cured? Like there’s something wrong with me? Apply some Susan Cain, stat!

I’m happy I’m an introvert. And, after some time with an awesome book on Saturday afternoon and a quiet Sunday with my family, of course I’ve recovered from the “fun” fair. Still, sometimes it’s so frustrating that I have to take that time, that I can’t bounce back quicker. Sometimes I still feel like everyone else is going along fine and I’m the weird one, the only one who can’t keep up.

I know that’s not true. Tiffany reports that she went home and took a nap, and I’m willing to bet that nearly every adult there was worn out when we were done. It was a hard day, but it was worth it – overall, the event was a success, and the girls provided an afternoon of fun for the community.

So next time there’s a big event, of course I will help out. I will keep tweaking my coping techniques, I will keep speaking up for what I need, and I will suggest that someone else handle the Costco run. Because, seriously. That place is INSANE.

— Kathy