Last night, I helped three of the girls in my daughter’s Girl Scout troop bridge from junior to cadette. It’s really the start of their move from fifth grade to sixth grade and the responsibility that comes with achieving this new level of Girl Scouting. Two of the girls, Sara and my daughter Ava, have been in the troop since it started when they were kindergartners.
The thing about being a leader is that I get to be a part of these girls’ lives and watch them grow up and mature. I remember our first meeting when I thought there was something wrong with Sara. She didn’t talk — at all. She wouldn’t even make eye contact. Now she’s one of the top cookie sellers in our troop. She can teach other girls how to put up a tent, and she’ll tell me quietly and calmly when things are off track, and perhaps, we need to rethink our plan.
I’ve also watched the sixth graders become middle-schoolers. And while I know they are giving their mothers grief, they aren’t that way with me. Sure, they might sass me, but I’m an adult whom they know cares about them and doesn’t judge them when they do something completely ridiculous.
At the end of the year ceremony each year, I give each girl an award. Sometimes they are silly — like this year, I gave an award for best fandom for a girl who uses the phrase “Ariana Grande” at least 10 times during a meeting. Sometimes, they are more meaningful, like best mentor, to a girl who became a cookie captain, or most mature, to a girl who really stepped up and lead this year.
Each year, they stand up there and roll their eyes as I give them their award. And each year, we all giggle about something they did this year that was funny or unbelievable. But at least, they know they have one adult who is really noticing them; who really sees them. They don’t have to tell me exactly what’s going on, but I know. And they know that I know.
And that’s why, even when it is 30 degrees and sleeting and I’m standing out there with them selling cookies or when the back seats of my van have reached rock-concert-decibel levels, I know it’s all worth it.