Thursday, December 22, 2011

A Life-long Dream Realized

I realized a lifelong dream last night. It is not often in life that one can claim that she realized a dream she has longed for her entire life. But last night, I did just that.

The story begins thirty-two years ago when I was a mere girl. When I was a stringy-haired, knobby-kneed little waif in the second grade, I wanted nothing more than to be a Brownie. The sash. The badges. The cookies. I went to Catholic school and we wore uniforms. Unattractive navy blue polyester pants my mother made herself. But once every couple of weeks, when the Brownies had meetings after school, they were allowed to wear their Brownie uniforms to school. I vividly remember sitting on the playground staring in wonder at these brown-clad beauties. When they donned their sashes and brown ensembles, they were nothing short of breath-taking. None of the Brownies were “too” tall or “too” skinny like me. None of them had knobby knees or stringy hair. Rather, they all looked like they had just stepped out of a Breck commercial. They were the epitome of seven-year-old perfection and I desperately wanted to join their ranks. I just knew that I would be stunning in brown.

That year, my mother decided she was going to volunteer to lead a Brownie troop. I was beyond excited. A new troop was starting and I—skinny, gangly Shannon Ralph—was going to get to be one of those flaxen-haired beauties dressed all in brown. I began daydreaming about our meetings. We would learn to sew. We would make milk-jug Easter baskets. We would have Easy-Bake Oven cook-offs. We would throw our brown beanie-adorened heads back and toss our perfectly curled hair around as we giggled with haughty derision at the poor girls dressed in their navy blue polyester pants. My life was going to change. I was going to be a Brownie. An IT girl! A Girl Scout!

Unfortunately, my life-changing brown transformation was not meant to be. At the last minute, my mother found out she was pregnant with my brother, Matt. She decided that she would not be able to be a Brownie troop leader once she discovered her pregnancy. As no other mothers stepped up to the plate, my dreams of Brownie-hood went up in smoke. The new troop never materialized. Rather than sashes and cookies and milk-jug Easter baskets, I got a brother. To this day, I don’t consider that a fair trade.

All of these years, I have been mourning the loss of my Brownie-hood. Last night, however, redemption was mine.

My daughter, Sophie, has joined a Daisy Scout troop (Daisy Scouts are one age level below Brownies, for those of you not versed in the world of Girl Scouts). Last night was her first meeting. To my surprise and utter excitement, I found that I, too, was inducted into the Girl Scouts last night. In order to volunteer with a Daisy troop—to chaperone, sell cookies, collect money, participate in the meetings, etc.—all the moms have to sign up to be Girl Scouts. I actually had to fill out an adult Girl Scout joining form. Yes, it is probably just a racket to get my $12 annual dues. But you know what? I don't care. I did it! Finally, thirty-two years later, I am a Girl Scout. I am an official Girl Scout. I didn’t get a sash, but that’s okay. I can have my mom make me one. There were no brown beanies (do Brownies still wear those cute little beanies?)There were no milk jug Easter baskets (though that would be a bit odd four days before Christmas) and we did not learn to sew (not yet anyway). There was, however, a Girl Scout pledge to recite. And there were songs. And arts and crafts. And even snacks…though Sophie avoided the fruit like it was the plague. At the end, we made a mom/Daisy Scout bridge and my big butt had to run under all of the out-stretched arms of the other moms and scouts. I could sense them scooting back to make room (I am no longer skinny and knobby-kneed…as a matter of fact, I probably have more fat on my knees right now than I did my entire body thirty-two years ago.) But that is beside the point. I am a Girl Scout. A Girl Scout!

Finally—FINALLY—redemption is mine. All of those Brownies who tossed their perfect hair and laughed at my blue polyester pants can kiss my ass! I am one of you now.

I think I might cry.


Jessy Schrandt said...

Try going under the bridge 7 months pregnant. I almost pass out every time :)

Madgew said...

This is such a terrific story. I was a brownie and my Mom was a co-leader and all I really remember was going to a Brownie Camp and having fun and the highlight of the troop that year was making Hanukkah and Christmas Candles. They were made of wax which we melted and then molded somehow and then added some type of sprinkles (blue and white or read and green). I remember being so proud of my candles. I remember the day I memorized the pledge and sold those cookies. Wow Shannon you just brought back 58 years in a flash. A walk down memory lane. I am so happy to welcome you as a former Scout myself into the Girl Scouts of America. You have come a long way, baby.

Barb B said...

Congratulations and welcome (both of you) to the fold. I'm putting in a plug for sending Sophie to resident camp when she is ready. I did Brownies but had no older girl troop options in my town. But I did camp EVERY and it changed my life -very important part of becoming a strong, independent woman. I'm still very close to my camp counselor friends!

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