Friday, May 8, 2009


Em's Girl Scout troop bridged from Juniors to Cadets tonight, in what was a very sweet ceremony at our local scout house. A small ceremony, since the troop is down to just seven girls. A bittersweet ceremony, because the troop is officially disbanded as of tonight.

The reasons for that are several and complicated, but are due at least in part to the fact that one of the girls left our troop and, with her mom as leader, started a new one a few years ago, and several other of the girls in our troop followed over the next year or so. The whole thing has been intermittently ugly, and has involved bad behavior on the parts of both the children and the parents and even--in my way of looking at it--by the Girl Scout Council in general, which doesn't seem to have rules in place to prevent what I believe turned into a form of institutionalized bullying.

It is for that reason that, while many of the remaining girls in the current troop will be joining that breakaway troop next year for Cadets, Em will not. She will become a Juliette for now, with the hopes that she will find a troop in her middle school next year that is unaffiliated with either of these original that she and I can both feel comfortable supporting.

If you and I sat down in a room with a couple of beers and talked about this whole situation, I'd be willing to go into great and boring detail of all the ways this situation has upset and disappointed me. I'd also--and I want to stress this--be more than willing to admit over and over again that there are no angels here, no black and white. There are many sides to this story, many caveats, many people who behaved badly, both among the young and the old(er).

But we're not in a room with a couple of beers (more's the pity), and so I'm going to spare you all the details and the back-and-forthing about who's the blame where. Suffice it to say that Emily and Baroy both understand my decision not to put her in that other troop, and both support it (though Em has admittedly mixed feelings, since the vast majority of her closest friends are in that troop). Suffice it to say that I have no need to get into my feelings about the whole thing with the leader of the other troop, who is a woman and I know and--all this aside--like quite a bit and whose opinions of events I'm not going to change, nor she mine. I'm just not going to ask her to take Em on, is all.

But, suffice it to say, both Baroy and Em are making that ignoring-the-issue thing damned near impossible, and I'm about to strangle the both of them.

Here are samples of three conversations that were conducted over the last few days. You be the discreteness judge:

1. I am talking to one of the mothers in our current troop, and she asks me what Em's going to do for Girl Scouts next year.

Me: Oh, she's just going to be a Juliette.

Other Mom: She's not going to join the other troop? My daughter will be so sad!

Me: That's really sweet. But she has her bat mitzvah coming up next summer, and I have...I just have personal reasons for not wanting her to join the other troop right now.

Other Mom: Anything I should know about?

Me: No, no. It's just about how *I* feel about what's gone on the past few years. Nobody else needs to feel the way I do about these things. I just think I'll be happier if we wait a bit to see who she becomes friends with in middle school, and see if there's a troop that would be a better fit for her.

And we go on to other subjects.

2. Baroy is talking to one of the moms in the current troop, and she asks him what Em's going to do for Girl Scouts next year.

Baroy: Oh, she's just going to be a Juliette.

Other Mom: She's not going to join the other troop? My daughter will be so sad!

Baroy: Well, TC thinks everything that went on with that other troop is TERRIBLE, and she REFUSES to have anything to do with them, and she just thinks anyone who would put their kid in that troop is DELUDED AND HORRIBLE.

[OK, maybe it wasn't quite that bad, but knowing my husband, who is not shy of expressing his opinion--or, obviously, mine--that's not far off. He made it quite clear to me that he made SURE this other mom knew just how unhappy *I* was with everything that had gone on. And when she, according to his retelling, tried to insist that I wasn't being fair to 'the other side,' he simply reiterated that "TC feels it would just be WRONG to put Em in that troop."]

3. Em is talking to one of the girls in the current troop, and she asks Em what she's going to do for Girl Scouts next year.

Em: Oh, I'm just going to be a Juliette.

Other Girl: You're not going to join our troop? I'll be so sad!

Em: Well, my mom thinks everything that went on with that other troop is TERRIBLE, and she REFUSES to let me have anything to do with you guys, and she just thinks anyone who would be in that troop is DELUDED AND HORRIBLE.

[And yes, just like her dad, Em is not shy about her opinions or mine. And, just like her dad, as she told it, when the other girl tried to argue the point with her, Em apparently told her, "Well, my mom thinks the other-troop-leader mom just behaved really badly, so..."]

So, um, yeah. My whole carefully planned confrontation-avoidance technique? Shot to hell by two people determined to fight my battles for me, while I don't even want to know where the battlefield is. Not only did they, um, pull no punches in expressing MY opinions, but they expressed them to the people most likely to go directly to the woman in question. I'm expecting an angry phone call, email, or street-side ambush in five, four, three...

Make new friends, but alienate the old...That's my motto. Or, at least, my family's.


kristenspina said...

Ha! I know this isn't funny, but... Anyway, you ARE doing the right thing, and I'm sure it will work out fine in the end. Sometimes a big change is the best thing--for everyone.

Green said...

I mean this in the nicest way - I think you're approaching this all wrong.

First, stop saying Em is "JUST" going to be a Juliet. That makes whatever that is LESS than whatever it is the other girls are doing, and Em seems like a really cool girl, so if she's doing this Julianne thing, then her doing it MAKES it cool.

Second, instead of spending energy explaining why Em isn't doing what her good friends are doing, why not spend that energy trying to talk the other girls (or, by extension, their moms) into doing what Em IS doing?

Thirdly, and you totally may have done this already, make sure Em knows the fine art of waving her hand dismissively while saying, "Ugh, I don't want to talk about it/I can't even get into it" and changing the subject. She will use this for the rest of her life, with tons of different types of people.

I hope Em has fun being a Julia next year. I hope they sell good cookies...?

kris said... only thought is em should decide if she wants to join the other troop, not you or anyone else. she is the one who is joining. not the parents, no matter how much the parents have to do with it. so if em wants to join then she should. right or worng, it is her troop, her scouting.

Ambre said...

LOL, you have girl scout drama, I have barn drama.

We need to teach our kids to say "OMG, don't even get me started..." and not talk about it.

Wait, no, you need to teach your kid to say that, I need to teach MYSELF to say that...

Ambre said...

p.s. totally disagree with post above, teaching our kids our values is part of parenting. If it was because you weren't sure she'd enjoy it, sure... but in a case of right vs. wrong, no.