That was the question posed by one of the Girl Scouts attending the weekend Fantasyland Camporee. I knew most of the girls in her troop prior to this weekend, but I had only met her on Friday. The girls in that troop are a year ahead of Daughter in school, but it's a big year. They have all crossed over to middle school while she remains solidly in elementary school. They were far too cool for many of the activities, and it showed in their postures and their words and their actions.
Since Daughter is friends with a couple of the girls in that troop -- the girls who skew younger than the rest -- we hung out with that troop Friday night. The troop leader manipulated the process to get Daughter paired with her closest friend in the troop and to keep one girl separated from two girls with whom battles constantly erupt. The girls reacted to the assignments with relief and happiness and satisfaction with their "luck."
Saturday, the Scout pairs joined with other Scout pairs to form groups of 12 or so girls. Parents were assigned as group escorts. My group had the two girls who had to be kept separate from the one. [Or was it that the one had to be kept separate from the two?] I've known both girls since they were in the early years of school. They had been in Eldest's classes from time to time. One goes to the same middle school as he does and they have all of the same classes.
They are 12 or nearly so now. They are so close to teens in every way, but they are also still in Girl Scouts, which I think keeps their surliness down a notch or two. They seem light years ahead of Daughter in emotional maturity. Some change has descended over them, has taken over them, and anyone can see it up close.
I rode those two and the other girls in their troop harder than any of the younger kids. They want their independence but still want their mother (or mother-figure) to clean up after them or get them the best seats or fetch their coats or save them from evil women demanding they do more chores. I rode them hard, all of the girls in that troop, but I also shared my junk food with them and let them wander wherever they wanted, as long as they remained in pairs. I saved my sarcasm for them and fellow adults, not letting little Brownies and Juniors in on the adult world.
Yeah, I guess I am always that mean to kids, pushing them to reach that level of maturity they think they've already achieved.