I am now of the age when all of my friends’ daughters are becoming Girl Scouts. They post pictures of their cute kids in their blue Daisy uniforms and talk about meetings and singing songs and everlasting friendships and sewing patches and community work.
It gives me hives.
I loathed every minute of my time in the oddly colored scratchy vests.
If memory serves me right, I was kicked out once for defiant gum chewing. Another time, it was because I had climbed a tree I was not supposed to climb and then hoisted the troop leader’s daughter up the tree. It’s not my fault that girl then fell and broke her leg, right? And the third time was on a camping trip. After I removed a spider from our tent, a girl led a chant of “Spider Girl” because I had touched a daddy longlegs, and the only option I had was to punch that girl in the face. Apparently, the only option for the troop leader was to then put me on dish duty and call my mom to pick me up.
I took the Girl Scout three-finger pledge and made my own pledge not to return, though I cannot be sure my personal pledge included all three fingers.
I was not sad. I didn’t like the kids. I didn’t like the crafts. I didn’t like the songs. The only thing I was looking forward to was taking camping trips, which I never made it to because I was sent home on the first night of my first camping trip for delivering (if you’re asking 8-year-old me) a well-deserved face punch. The only things I missed about Girl Scouts were the cookies.
The years I was a Girl Scout — and only the years I was a Girl Scout — my parents bought an abundance of cookie boxes. How lucky that I was never kicked out before cookie selling season!
My mom and I would pore over the long foldout form for signing up neighbors who wanted a box or 12. We would read every description over and over until we memorized it so I could give the cookie information to prospective purchasers in great detail. We would obsess over which flavors to get and how many. And the level of excitement reached when we opened that year’s new flavor is unmatched in my adult life. Will it be disgusting or life-altering? It was like an innocent precursor to the gamble of spin the bottle when the only spit that could wind up in your mouth was your own after accidentally eating a cookie with coconut. Gross. (Sorry, fans of Samoas.)
I hated Girl Scouts. But I loved Girl Scout Cookies.
Losing access to the deliciousness inside those brightly colored boxes was the collateral damage of being dumped by the Brownies. It wasn’t until college, when my best friend’s younger sister came to our dorm to take orders, that it even occurred to me that I could buy a box on my own.
Heck, I was an adult. I could get myself cookies if I wanted! I looked over the list, delighting in the new flavors. Alas, I didn’t have the money for a box. Maybe next year.
I told myself it was better that way. Better that I wasn’t supporting an organization that didn’t support me, that didn’t support the things I believed in — chewing gum, climbing trees and playing with spiders, among many other things.
Time goes on, and people and organizations change, and we all grow up. And now, my friends are helping their daughters sell cookies.
“Please just buy a box,” my friend asked. “If Jaya doesn’t sell another 30 boxes, I’m going to have to buy them from her.”
I asked her what she meant. Why would she have to buy the boxes? My friend filled me in on the competitions and awards and so on. “I never thought supporting my daughter’s ambitions would mean eating my weight in Thin Mints. The things we do for the ones we love.”
So you’re saying I can show my daughter that I love her by eating boxes of cookies?
Perhaps I will encourage her to join Girl Scouts when she’s older.
In the meantime, I’ll just buy a box of S’mores cookies in honor of the camping trip that never was. And maybe a box of Trefoils. And Savannah Smiles. And Tagalongs.
Katiedid Langrock is author of the book “Stop Farting in the Pyramids.”