Thursday, March 13, 2014

Over-Thinking Day

Tonight's cocktail is a blood orange sidecar, because I'm out of everything but brandy.



1/2 oz lemon juice, 1/2 oz cointreau, 1/2 oz (you may want more - I just eyeballed it) blood orange juice, 2 oz brandy, shake with ice and serve in a martini glass. Yum!

Recently, it was World Thinking Day for the Girl Scouts of the U.S.A. Each troop picks a country to learn about, then produces a display, food, and "swaps" (little homemade pin-on trading items) exemplifying that country. Troops gather to visit each other's displays and share what they learned. My daughter is a Brownie, and our troop is fairly co-op, with each family taking responsibility for one meeting and one troop event or outing each school year. This year, Tink's troop chose Israel for Thinking Day, and as the only Jewish mother on deck, I stepped up.

I like the Girl Scouts because they foster independence and responsibility, and the girls thrive on it. I'd figured the girls would decide how much time and effort to devote to the project. They learned a folk dance, we made a poster, we made Ina Garten's rugelach, we did swap pins, and the girls seemed to enjoy it and learn something. It wasn't horribly burdensome, but it entailed some work. I felt my level of involvement was appropriate.

I'd forgotten to account for suburban D.C. moms. So, when we trooped into the school cafeteria on the appointed afternoon, immediately I noticed that everyone else had Very Fancy Displays. Displays that, for the most part, I doubt the girls had much to do with other than decorating what the mom already designed. Remember science fairs? How you had to bribe your dad to make a trifold display for you out of plywood and hinges? They sell cardboard versions at Staples now, and everyone seemed to know that but me. I marched into the estrogen-thick assortment of ubermoms, thankful that I'd at least located a plastic tablecloth with Stars of David at the last minute, and jerry-rigged our sad little ghetto poster so that it would stand up on the table. Here's what it looked like.



Meanwhile, the England table was festooned with Union Jacks, leatherbound volumes of Shakespeare, pictures of striking coastlines and castles and Big Ben, scones, and a life-sized cutout of the Queen. All the other tables were a big deal, too. The China table involved adorable little girls in Chinese dresses. The Japan girls had kimonos. The Brazil kids had feathered masks, though sadly they were not serving caipirinhas. Don't get me wrong - I was totally impressed, and the girls had a great time, but I couldn't help feeling little exasperated.


See, what our troop did was pretty much what my Brownie troop would have done in the late 70s/early 80s. And it's not a work-outside-the-home/stay-home-mom thing, either. My mom worked full time, but many of my friends' moms didn't, and regardless of who was involved, I never saw anything so elaborate at a kids' event. Maybe things were different among wealthier families, but on the whole, I think moms in the 70s and 80s just didn't consider this kind of thing to be their job, other than providing access to necessary supplies and guidance as requested.

The interesting thing was that it didn't seem like our girls really noticed. They were happy to staff their table and stamp the "passports" of the scouts who visited. They ate their weight in rugelach (which, I must say, were quite delicious). They even performed their dance for everyone. If anyone noticed the disparity besides me (and maybe nobody did), it was the other moms. But nobody gave me side-eye, so I guess I'll never know. Among our troop moms, everyone seemed primarily relieved that someone else took this one for the team.

When it was all over, the only thing that mattered to me was that Tink gave me a big hug and thanked me for helping. Secretly, though, I hope that one of the moms with glue gun burns on her hands looked at our display and considered that they might have just as easily spent some of their own display-building time drinking a glass of wine instead, or doing yoga, or reading a book. The kids will be all right, regardless.

3 comments:

  1. Little known fact, but my dad could have super rich if he had marketed his science fair poster board set up. He actually created a tri-fold poster board with masking tape and coat hangers. It was AWESOME!-Ashley

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    Replies
    1. Dads back then were like MacGyver. For a very long time I honestly believed my dad had magic powers to make or fix anything just using a screwdriver, a hammer, a drill, and duct tape.

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  2. I am familiar with the DC Mom over-doing mentality! You are totally right - the kids really don't seem to care or notice all that much whose displays/projects/tri-folds are more elaborate than whose. Coming from a Mom who just got done helping her kid with two projects two weeks in a row, I put a lot of pressure on MYSELF to make it look like my kid's mom gives a damn. I get serious anxiety. (That speaks to my own issues with my own childhood and has nothing to do with today, though.) Sigh. But there are always going to be the displays done by the craftier parents with more time on their hands or more motivation to make it perfect. It's pressure I don't need in my life and my kid sure doesn't need it either! Thanks for this post - a great reminder about what really matters.

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