Sigmund Freud spent a fair amount of time talking about how, as a female, I apparently feel inferior to men because I'm envious of a certain body part. What old Siggy never explained was my feelings of inferiority in regards to my own daughter, the beloved Foghorn. It could be because she's tall and skinny, neither of which I am, or it could be her stunning hazel eyes and all around lovely face that make my head drop in self-loathing. I know it's not her ability to work the word "fart" into any conversation. I've finally come to the conclusion that what I'm dealing with is a simple case of what Siggy would probably have termed "Patch Envy."
Foghorn is a Girl Scout Daisy. She's right in the midst of her first Girl Scout cookie sale, which is an adventure all by itself. She was very excited last summer at the thought of doing her first cookie sale in the new year and had elaborate marketing plans. Then, to her shock, she found out that she doesn't actually get to keep the money, that it must be turned in to the troop leader. Her enthusiasm quickly waned. She had assumed this would be a wonderful way to earn money for her obsession -- purchasing a Winnebago. It was while she was discussing the profit margins on each box of cookies sold that I realized her misconception and given her disgust at the thought of doing all that work for no personal profit, it's amazing I've gotten her to help sell cookies at all. Despite her reluctance, she slightly exceeded her cookie-selling goal of 40 boxes and will receive her cookie seller patch. Ah, that patch. A lovely thing it is, as are the rest that grace the back of her blue smock. Gulp...and here come the feelings of inferiority.
I went to Catholic grade school and Girl Scouts was not an option for me. We had the Camp Fire Girls. I joined the first grade group, called the Bluebirds, and attended two meetings before I decided I was sick of the whole thing. I didn't attempt it again for five years. In sixth grade, at the urging of my classroom friend whose mother was to be the leader, I joined Camp Fire Girls. I got my navy blue vest and wore it to my first meeting. And there I saw the girls who had been with the group since first grade, their vests fairly dripping with beads and patches and pins. Gulp... I'm a little, shall we say, competitive by nature and seeing all those plastic beads jiggling against that cotton/polyester was more than my little heart could take. I was determined to be dripping with beads myself. Unfortunately that was easier said than done. The opportunities for being honored with bits of plastic were few and far between. I did earn myself a red, white, and blue bead for helping to clean up the cafeteria bathroom after a meeting. I think the leader was throwing me a bone. I sewed that 1/2" bead onto my vest and tried to wear it proudly, but in truth it was just embarrassing. I managed to stay with the Camp Fire Girls for several months before dropping out. Planning fundraisers and joining committees with a bunch of giggling females just wasn't my thing. It still isn't, which is why I avoid the PTA like a vampire avoids the sun.
Foghorn, on the other hand, is my social butterfly, at least with groups of kids she knows. She's the loudest one in the troop, the most gregarious Daisy, and has to be reminded repeatedly not to lift the other girls in the air, especially since she has a tendency to let them drop. Socially, Foghorn is everything I'm not. She's also got that smock. Unlike the Camp Fire Girls, and perhaps even Girl Scouts in the old days, the Daisy troop is regularly presented with opportunities to earn patches. Besides earning the petals for the front of her smock, her back is filling up nicely with the "fun patches." Sometimes I go in the laundry room and stare at it hanging there with its colorful embroidered pictures. I look at the adorable little roller skate patch for going to Castle Skateland, the dalmation for touring the fire house, the Jack-o-Lantern for attending the Halloween party. After a few minutes of salivating, post-traumatic stress disorder usually sets in and I'm bombarded with flashbacks of my classmates' fully loaded vests and my own miniscule bead hanging there as graceless as toilet paper stuck to a shoe. It's at that point that I usually run from the room clutching my head and find some chocolate in the pantry.
I'm carefully watching my own reactions and emotions to Foghorn's Daisy career and will seek professional counseling if necessary. I don't want to become some Girl Scout version of a stage mother, pushing my daughter to collect every patch and pin to whet my own appetite for honors. At the same time, I take great pride in her accomplishments and wouldn't mind sharing them with select people in my life. I wonder if any of the former Camp Fire Girls are on Facebook? I'm sure they'd love to see a picture or two of my daughter...