Today MissSeven has her very first Brownie Troop meeting. She is very excited, even though she really doesn’t know what the Brownies do other than sell cookies and wear uniforms. I suspect that at age seven, that is more than enough cool. I told her that I was once a Brownie, but I didn’t tell her that I was a Bad Brownie. There’s time for that later, after idealization, rebellion, and realization have passed and I can just be a human to her. Theoretically.

I, too, was lured into joining all those years ago by the awesomeness of being able to wear the uniform at school on Brownie meeting days. Brown knee socks, brown jumper, the sash, and a rockin’ brown beret, like I could pull out a cache of Thin Mints and take your eye out with them. I thought I’d be roaming the school halls all badass and mini-military. I thought we Brownies would be going out camping and scaling mountains and fording streams, taking on the world while constantly eating Girl Scout cookies, boxes and boxes and boxes no doubt locked away in the janitor’s closet for us alone.

Instead, week after week, we Brownies sat in the basement cafeteria at Cushing Elementary after school and made CRAFTS. Oh god, I hated CRAFTS. I wasn’t any good at art or sewing or pasting or cutting and that was ALL WE DID. And I hated doing anything I wasn’t good at, especially when there were NO COOKIES and NO STREAM FORDING in compensation for my psychic pain. I felt burnt by the Brownies, building on my bad experience with afterschool Ballet class the year before. That bitch promised us TOE SHOES. Did we ever get TOE SHOES? NO, all we did was EXERCISE. The hell with that, I said, even though I dug my beatnik-looking black leotard and tights.

So I sat and seethed for a few more weeks, thinking how grown-ups smiled and lied RIGHT AT YOU. Come to think of it, I doubt any of the mom Troop Leaders promised me anything about military perks or a trip to Yellowstone, but I had frothed it up in my mind anyway. I had had enough. When the Troop Leader Mom told us that afternoon that we would be making paper fish to go on a wire-hanger mobile, I snapped. I sat there, glowering at the materials sitting in front of me on the long Formica cafeteria table, doing nothing while the other girls happily cut and colored their fishies. Troop Leader Mom walked over to me.

“Marianne! Why aren’t you making your fish?”

“I don’t WANT TO.”

Rattled, she asked, “Why??”

“I don’t WANT TO. This is STUPID.”

All the girls and the other moms stopped and stared. This was Brownie anarchy. The TLM hovered over me. “Don’t you know these are going to go to the Old Folks’ Home? It will make them so happy!”

I paused, and looked her dead in the eye. “I. DON’T. CARE.”

She actually gasped, and I felt both terribly guilty and victorious. I sat there and pouted until the meeting was over, no fish made by me.

The next meeting, I thought about the Great Paper Fish Rebellion, and decided that was that, I would quit the damn Brownies and their boring charitable ways. I took the bus home instead, and was very upset to find that my mother WASN’T HOME. WHAT??? My mother was ALWAYS HOME when I got home from school!! But the house was locked, and all I could do was wait on the front porch until someone came home, all weepy and worried and sad for myself.

As the sun started to go down, I saw my mom return up our gravel driveway in her brown station wagon. I ran over to the garage and flung myself at her, berating her for leaving me all alone. She explained to me that she too had been very worried when she had arrived at the Brownie meeting and found that I wasn’t there. She had decided to surprise me by volunteering to lead a cooking demonstration that day, she said sadly.

Oof. Oooofff.

So the Bad Brownie and her Nice Mother went inside the house to make dinner, never to return to Brownies again.

As it turns out, MissSeven loves to do crafts and art, even though I suspect her very nice Troop Leader will supply her with that and much more. I will do my best to suppress the Bad Brownie in me and summon the Nice Mother, even though I still suck at crafts, am not a great cook, and would have panicked fording a stream anyway. Theoretically.