By: Dr. Laurel Schwartz
I loved being a Girl Scout. The only negative experiences I had were my interactions with Olive. She was an older girl, who I think bullied me. I don’t remember much about that. But that’s the way the mind works sometimes, not remembering much when there is a trauma – and Olive bullying me was scary and definitely traumatic. The only other thing I do remember is sitting next to her at a Girl Scout meeting, and having her pull down my sock with her ankle underneath the table.
Our Girl Scout leader was Mrs. D. She was a widow, working woman and single mom. I understand now, as an adult, just how difficult her life must have been. That she made time to be our leader made all of us in the troop feel special. That’s the way it is with kids. It’s not so much what you do with them but that you want to be with them that matters the most. She taught me how to make a bed with hospital corners, which was a requirement for me to earn a merit badge.
As Girl Scouts we sold Girl Scout cookies. I was shy. Going to a neighbor’s house and asking them to buy cookies was tough. It was the best assertiveness training I ever had. My self-esteem rose over taking on a task I found hard and then meeting with success. It was an important life lesson. The neighbors were nice and encouraging, too. Their responses communicated to me that the world was a good place.
With that said, when I recently received a request to buy Girl Scout cookies via email I was surprised and honestly dismayed. I felt an email request was so cold and impersonal. It wasn’t what I had done. Then I thought, but the Girl Scouts are about teaching girls life skills. Using the computer, creating business letters, sending emails are all-important skills in today’s world, especially when you’re running a business.
I further reasoned with myself. I was digitally inclined with my computer, ipad, and iphone. I could even embrace the idea that this would be the last generation that would use paper. Maybe I was being cognitively rigid. Maybe I was having difficulty with what we call in psychology, “changing set” – moving easily from one situation to another. Then I thought about a quote I had seen from the psychologist Harry Levinson, “All change involves loss, and all loss must be grieved.” It’s an interesting idea for life, and maybe it was apropos to my upset with the email request for cookies.
So I’m okay now with the digital request to buy cookies. However, everyone is entitled to his or her likes and dislikes. There’s nothing wrong with that. So, for my part, I’m looking forward to seeing the Girl Scouts smiling, in front of the supermarket, where I’ll, of course, buy more cookies.
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