I am a Brownie leader. Queue images of crafts, cookies and camping. But wait! Shameless plug: Girl Scouts has evolved and today the focus is on character, courage and confidence, helping girls realize their own leadership qualities. I am proud to be part of an organization with such lofty goals.
Last night, we had our first meeting and it was fun, but work. Being a Brownie leader means that you have to be prepared (the Girl Scout motto, FYI). Winging it is a Very. Bad. Idea. I mean, picture a roomful of eight and nine-year old girls and no plan for an hour and a half. Preparation could mean the difference between ordered chaos and the potential for fire, police, and rescue professionals being called to the scene.
The interesting thing is that we played a game involving teams of two and a balloon. They had to wedge the balloon between them and walk across the room. The obvious goals were to work as a team, talk to each other, and find creative solutions. (It worked like a charm and all eleven of my brilliant little Brownies got it.) The interesting thing wasn’t the game, it was after the game. We had blown up extra balloons, enough that everyone got to bring one home so when we finished the game, they all grabbed the extra balloons and did what little kids everywhere do, they threw them in the air, made their hair stand up on end, and in general played and goofed off and laughed.
As the leader, I sat and just watched for a minute. Watched all the balloons float gracefully through the air and the girls gallop around the room laughing great, big, belly laughs and smile from ear to ear. Was it loud? Yes. Was it borderline bedlam? Oh yes! Could I have ever organized that? Not likely.
When I started writing this I was thinking about how preparation is key and how I expect life with my own two children to work seamlessly with very little planning and even less guidance from me. I am busy, running a business, running a household, running a Brownie troop. Running. I have told them what to do at least once before. Don’t they remember?
But they are kids. They don’t inherently know how to budget time, they don’t understand the difference college, never mind a good college, will make for their future selves. I know I think that if I could just spend more time planning, more time organizing our house, our lives, our everything, life would be simpler, easier. But now, while I think that organization and preparation is important (I am me after all), sometimes letting go creates those elusive priceless moments.
Like yesterday. We walk to school most mornings. It is painful. We have to leave ten minutes earlier than if we were to drive and in mom-speak finding ten extra minutes in the morning is akin to finding one of the lost Russian Czar’s Faberge eggs in a dodo bird’s nest with a dodo bird roosting on it. I force us to do this We do this for a lot of reasons, to reduce our reliance on fossil fuels, to get in fifteen or twenty minutes of exercise that doesn’t look like exercise, to spend more time connected with nature and each other.
The point is that we were rushing [gasp!] but we started walking. My two girls were walking in front of me and they were talking about a restaurant we had tried over the weekend. They weren’t arguing, they weren’t teasing each other, they weren’t whining it’s too cold, too hot, too fast, too slow, too green (?) they were just chatting with each other, like friends. And smiling. I loved it. For those moments, everything was good. Really good, and I could never have planned it.
There are no charts for happiness, no rules to follow, no way to prepare for joy to happen. It just happens, mostly when you least expect it.
But you can’t have your head down, checking the plan. I think maybe you have to be open, ready and watching or you might miss it.