“If I had eight hours to chop down a tree, I’d spend six hours sharpening my ax.” Abraham Lincoln
As you know, I received a nasty letter from my daughter’s Brownie troop leaders and was quite upset with them about the overall tone of the letter. Frankly, the letter read like a police blotter on everything my daughter had done wrong over the past two Brownie troop meetings. Honestly, I don’t think my daughter is really as bad as this letter portrayed her to be. Of course, every parent thinks their child is perfect. I know she isn’t perfect but whose child is? Well, besides the troop leader’s daughter, right?
Since I was quite upset about this letter, I did think it was for the best to meet with the two Brownie troop leaders in person and discuss the letter and my daughter’s behavior. Note: To read the letter and my response that I almost sent, please refer to my pervious blog “Is my child really that bad?” Now, I did hold back on sending that letter because I thought I should meet these two ladies face to face. It was a sharp response letter and I’m not sure if they could have handled it. When I’m upset, I tend to have a critical tongue. One might say it is a bit blunt and to the point.
I did have to send two requests for this meeting. Upon arrival, only one of the leaders was there. We’ll call her “J” and the other one (we’ll call her “T”) was late. J led me to believe with her spoken comments that she thought T might have some reservations meeting with me. Hmmm, already setting the stage for a confrontation with me? Did she think that I was going to off the handle on them?
Before this meeting, I was prepared to pull my daughter from the troop and either look for another troop or start our own troop. However, my daughter did convey to me that she liked her friends in the troop and did want to stay in Girl Scouts. To be honest, I’m not a quitter and either is my family. I might lose a battle here and there, but in the end I will win the war. Overall, I want my daughter to enjoy her experience in Girl Scouts yet I didn’t want her to be afraid of the leader. Girl Scouts is supposed to be fun; not nit picky. I reflected that I have made a commitment to Boys Scouts with my son and therefore, I should make a commitment to my daughter’s Girl Scout experience as well. With this in mind, I filled out my adult leader application, signed the volunteer agreement, and faxed it in on Friday (prior to my Sunday afternoon meeting). I’m proud to say I am now a registered Girl Scout leader!
The conversation drifted around like a life raft in the South Pacific. J likes to talk and express her unique opinion and her parenting views. She was prepared to go on the defensive with a copy of the behavior contract my wife had signed. Her trump card was this behavior contract. Her mistake was the fact she had it in her hands prepared to whip it out if I started to counter that my daughter’s behavior wasn’t all that bad. However, she left it out where I could see it. I knew I should avoid saying anything that she’d be able refer to the contract and argue that we signed a behavior contact.
Besides, as a new Girl Scout leader, I have to work with her over the next several years. You can catch more flies with honey than with vinegar. That is why I always like to compliment my opponents and agree with their position before introducing my position. Since my position is right (and superior), I like to lure my opponents into a false sense of security. I believe that T really didn’t think that the letter wasn’t that bad. Clearly, J had written it and T had just signed her name to it. T didn’t seem too worried about this meeting (contrarily to what J wanted me to believe). We had never had a conflict with T in the past and currently don’t have a problem with her. She is a nice person and honestly wants her daughter to have a great Girl Scout experience.
J on the other hand is another whole other matter. She likes to hide behind the veil of a “detailed” individual. This is her reason and justification of being mean to other people. She thinks that by detailing out all the faults and problems she perceives, it is perfectly alright to point out these out to you because she is “helping” you. Again, everyone has faults and constructive criticism can be a useful tool; when applied correctly.
J does not accept that all people are different. Her world is black and white. She draws her lines in the sand and will not adjust her thinking no matter how wrong she is. It is cemented her brain that her thinking is correct. She can not fathom nor see the other side of an argument. Due to this narrow minded position, she thinks of only one possible outcome: her outcome. This causes conflict with others and leaves her at a serious disadvantage. On the contrast, I can see an argument, a counter argument, and another five possible arguments. She sees her own opinion as the only correct and possible outcome.
This behavior is misguided and convoluted. J is a bully whether she likes it or not. She might believe she is helpful but she isn’t. Her thoughts, words, and actions define her behavior and tell us she is a bully. It is unacceptable behavior and I will not stand idly to the side and let this behavior continued unchecked.
I informed T and J that I thought they were overwhelmed. T agreed with me and J stated that it was hard to get people to volunteer. I agreed with that. I even apologized for not helping out more. I then informed them that I was going to help out more and come to every meeting from now on. T thought this was a wonderful idea and thanked me. J wasn’t as happy and was quick to inform me that I had to be a registered adult leader to be a leader.
Here is what separates the complainers from doers. I wish I could properly express the look on J’s face when I told her I had already faxed in my adult leader application, volunteer agreement, and background check. Her look of “Oh shit…he is coming on board whether I approve or not” was priceless. If you don’t want to get your shoes dirty, then don’t step out in the cow pasture. Don’t send me a letter complaining about my daughter and expect me to roll over and do nothing. That isn’t going to happen.
If there is a problem; I’ll correct it. It is my utmost pleasure to correct the problem and eliminate the friction it is causing.
It was quite delightful to let them know that I had scheduled the following day, my three hour Introduction Course at the Girl Scout office. I believe that J was caught off guard by this. She thought she could stall me out and I’d roll over and go away like other fathers when it comes to their daughters. Really, I’m just father that doesn’t attend any meetings and has no interest in Girl Scouting, right?
Her perception was that I was going to complain that my daughter was being treated unfairly, she shouldn’t be so mean, and I would have my say. She would successfully deflect my complanients when she referred to the behavior contract in her hand. This plan had come screeching to a halt. Instead, I had offered to help. She now found herself in a position of either accepting my help (that she had earlier agreed that she needed) or not accepting it. How could she not accept my help? How could she turn down my years of experience?
In my humble opinion, T and I left the meeting satisfied with the outcome. J had other thoughts about the outcome of the meeting. I didn’t know this until the next day at my Introduction to Girl Scout training at the Girl Scout office.
The following day, training started out quite well with Wendy our local Girl Scout leader. She is very knowledgeable, easy to work with, and overall has a nice personality. She thanked me for volunteering and getting involved in my daughter’s Girl Scout career. I told her that I was an Eagle Scout, I was my son’s Cub Scout den leader for 5 years (with 11 Cub Scouts), and currently a registered assistant scoutmaster with my son’s Boy Scout troop. Furthermore, I know Girl Scouts is not Boy Scouts and I will do everything that the Girl Scouts require of me to be the best leader possible. I have no problem attending classes and camps to make sure I fulfill the needed Girl Scout leader requirements. I will do whatever it takes to be a great Girl Scout leader.
About an hour into our training, Wendys let me know that J had called her about me! She said J had some concerns about me becoming a Girl Scout leader. Can you believe that? The question of why I wanted to be a Girl Scout leader had also been brought up by my wife. My wife asked me why I was becoming a Girl Scout leader. Reflecting on my reasons, I can honestly say that it boils down to this: Scouting is supposed to be fun. Why shouldn’t I give my children equal attention? Whether it is a Boy Scout or Girl Scout activities, I should be there for both of them. As a parent, shouldn’t I protect my children? Isn’t becoming a Girl Scout leader taking that step toward becoming an involved parent? Is being a part of my daughter’s Scouting career a bad thing? With my commitment to Scouting and its values, shouldn’t I pay it forward?
I have gained a great deal over the years from Boy Scouts and I live my life by the Boy Scout Oath and the Boy Scout Law. One of the twelve points of the Boy Scout Law is: A Scout is helpful. I see this as an opportunity to live up to promise I made to myself many years back. A Scout is helpful. My daughter’s Brownie Troop needs help and I’m here to help.
Upon conclusion of my training, I did give Wendy the letter I received from J and T. I told her that this encouraged me to be more active Her impression of J is that J gets bogged down in the details and J forgets that scouting is supposed to be fun. I told her that I had shown the letter to two other Girl Scout troop leaders and they said the same thing: Girl Scouts is supposed to be fun. The letter J wrote didn’t express this. They both said that this leader needs to get a grip when it comes to dealing with 7 and 8 year old girls.
This past week on Wednesday night, I went to the local council’s area meeting. J couldn’t make it because she was feeling “under the weather”. It probably would have burned her up inside if she knew I was there. She didn’t have a chance to tell everyone about me before I made my first Girl Scout leader appearance. As the only male there, I’m sure I’ll be remembered. J will now face an uphill battle if she plans to paint a bad picture of me. I’m the only father willing to be a part of my daughter’s Girl Scout experience and I’m willing to come to this Leader’s meeting to prove it.
Our next Girl Scout Brownie meeting is scheduled for Tuesday February 15. I can’t wait! I plan to make quite a splash with my introduction speech to the parents and the girls present. It should be a night to remember!