Emily has been in Brownies since school started last year. This was a new experience for both of us since I was never a daisy/brownie/girl scout. For Emily, being a Brownie has been fun, fun, fun! And it's been exciting to watch her participate since I was always such a wallflower as a little kid. For me though, it's been an exercise in patience, patience, patience.

(OFF TOPIC, FOR A MINUTE) I've gotten into the habit of saying that I don't really like other people's kids. Of course, there didn't used to be so many kids in my life and the ones I noticed on a day-to-day basis were...obnoxious. Hmmm, that's probably why I noticed them. Anyway I realized recently that I need to stop saying that because there are many kids out there these days who I'm really rather fond of. I've volunteered in Emily's classes and I've enjoyed getting to know her classmates. Of course, all my good friends' children are dear to me and without a doubt, I'm in love with my nephews. Which all adds up to a lot of other people's kids. That I like. So you see what I mean about not using such a blanket phrase anymore? But it seems that in most group settings (Brownies, swimming lessons, soccer, dance class, etc.) there's always a kid or two or more that's just unbearable. Those are the kids I don't like. I have a hard time holding my tongue around those kids, and I have an even harder time hiding my irritation and dislike of those kids. Perhaps I'm immature or maybe I'm just a bitch. Whatever. So instead of saying that I don't like other people's kids, I'm going to start saying that I don't like other people's kids that are jerks. Excellent! Glad I got that sorted out. (SORRY, THAT WAS LONGER THAN I PLANNED)

Are you're getting that I'm not really the ideal candidate for chaperoning trips, being class mom and running the carpool?

So anyway, one of Emily's first Brownie adventures was an overnight campout at a Girl Scout House in Laguna Beach. Emily really wanted to go but was too nervous to stay the night unless I went. If I didn't spend the night as a chaperone, I would have to go pick her up at lights out and then drive her all the way back the next morning, which would have been a total drag. So I sucked it up and volunteered. The other chaperone moms were nice and one of them matched me in sarcasm which means I liked her right away. At first it seemed that the experience wouldn't be so bad. But there were these two girls, whose moms were not there (of course!), who were utterly, ridiculously, obnoxious. One of them literally threw herself down on the ground and cried because not enough of the girls were paying attention to her. She was bossy, melodramatic and defiant. She tried my patience to the very limit and she and I had words. The other little peach would pound on the piano as hard as she could, every chance she got. We'd make her stop and she'd move on to some other obnoxious, repetitive behavior that we'd have to ask her to quit doing. This went on...and on...and on until she said to one of us, in a very snitty little pre-teen voice "You're not my mom." The restraint I had to use after that nearly made my head explode. It was clear that I was in my own little custom-made hell.

After that trip, I secretly hoped that Emily would stop loving Brownies and want out. She didn't, so I reluctantly continued to shuttle her around to the Brownie meetings and outings. I helped her sell cookies and I helped the Cookie-Mom (who happens to be one of those dear friends whose kids' I adore) pick up the thousands of boxes of cookies and distribute them to the troop. And don't tell anyone I'm saying this, but that part was kind of fun.

So last week, as a reward for those thousands of boxes of cookies sold, our troop got to go to an overnight Adventure Camp at Sea World. I wasn't going to go, but some people had to drop out because of vacations and whatnot and they had extra spots and it was Sea World and I love Sea World and so, again, I signed up to be a chaperone. There was a little part of me that was excited, but oh man was I dreading dealing with the difficult girls.

But the fates must have been pleased that day because this trip was different. It was FUN! Certain girls chose not to go and the group that went gelled beautifully. No drama, no tears, no fights. It was an all around mahvelous time. We had a guide that led us through the park, did crafts with the girls and taught them songs. We slept in our sleeping bags in the manatee exhibit and got to fall asleep and wake up again to those sweet, gentle creatures floating, twirling and swimming around above us. It was awesome and an incredible privilege and there wasn't a single bad attitude in the group.

At one point, we were walking into the bleachers at the nighttime dolphin show and fireworks extravaganza, and the staff was passing out snacks and apple juice to the Adventure Camp kids. Emily turned to me and said: "This is one of the best days of my life!" For the remainder of the trip, I was just so glad that I was there to experience that excitement with her, that I would've dealt with all the obnoxious brats they sent my way. I was so grateful that she was telling me that it was one of the best days of her life and not some other kids' mom.

So there it is. At that moment I became a (significantly less reluctant) Brownie Mom. Taking the good with the bad. And maybe, just maybe there will be more good than bad. I sure hope so, because I really can't stand other people's kids that are jerks.

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