Friday, March 10, 2006

Girl Scout Cookies

This has nothing to do with bipolar, but it's on my mind.

The grade school my girls attend is in a nice neighborhood, but it's a 1960s neighborhood. This means it's in the first transition. Back in the 60s and 70s, there were kids EVERYWHERE. Now, there are still many original home owners, and not nearly as many kids. Younger couples are buying newer houses in suburbs rather than in established neighborhoods. The neighborhood school is suffering from declining enrollment as a result. So our school district has made our neighborhood school a "school of international studies" and a "magnet school". The school district provides free transportation from lower income neighborhoods to students who choose to attend this school. It's a great way to help attain necessary integration. This is VERY cool, as it gives my girls the opportunity for a diverse educational experience.

My wife is a girl scout leader, both for my youngest daughter's Brownie troop, and my older daughter's Girl Scout troop. And of course, it's cookie time. The people in her troops are a diverse mix just like the school. Once again, very cool. But cookie time brings problems. Last year we had a young mother whose daughter sold several hundred dollars worth of cookies. The money disappeared. The young scout's mother died 2 days later from an overdose. It was tragic. The grandmother stepped in and made up the shortage, but she worked at Walmart and didn't have an extra $200 plus to spare. Along with that, she now had the extra burden of raising the young girl. A local business owner heard the story, stepped in, and paid the shortage. It was a very classy thing for him to do, and I respect him greatly for it. The girl is still involved in the scout troop, and loves it.

This year, we have another problem. Not to the magnitude of last year's, thank goodness. But we have a mother, always red-eyed, and always with shaking hands. She is a self-admitted meth addict. My wife is not able to collect money from her for their cookie sales. She's being pleasant, calling with reminders such as "we'll have someone home all day today if you want to drop off the money, or let me know if it would be more convenient for me to pick it up". Today, the mother's phone was disconnected. Luckily, it's not a lot of money, less than $100. My family or the troop will make it up, but you can't just let it go. That money is important to the troop, my wife's troops pay the girl's yearly fees out of cookie money as some of the parents just can't handle an extra $20 fee.

So they're left with a problem. Do they kick the girl out of scouts? That wouldn't be right, her home situation is obviously difficult, and the scouts could be a huge positive influence on her. You hate to make the girl pay for her mother's problems. And you don't want the girl to be uncomfortable around the others, so you try very hard to shelter the youngster from the situation. But the mother needs to know this can't be tolerated. The scouts will take legal action if necessary, but my wife won't turn her in. She'll cover it instead. We'll ask for payments, and may get one or two, but won't get them all. At least it's not enough money to bring about another OD.

Thinking about this, we're pretty damn fortunate. This is our biggest worry today, and we're not in a position where we are on the opposite side of this issue. I just wish everyone was so lucky.

9 comments:

Sharla said...

Can the girl get a sponsor that is NOT her mother? What I mean is, let's say she was MY neighbor. I am her sponsor and take her to the meetings and watch the money and stuff. Do they do that?

Speaking of cookies I just bought some Samoas today and stuffed myself. Yumm.

Jon said...

I understand, Sharla. But would that send a message to the daughter that her mother isn't wanted, or not good enough? The scouts do require social security numbers and signature guarantees of all mothers who will handle money, which is all the mothers. For next year, we may get another person to watch over that girl's cookie sales, but that's difficult also. No matter what you do, there's the risk of hurting the child.

I'm digging the lemon sandwich cookies this year. ;-)

Mermaid Girl said...

I must know...what are lemon sandwich cookies???

Lol
MG

Jon said...

Mermaid Girl:
They're like Oreos, but are yellow cookies on the outside, with a lemon flavored filling on the inside.

Good stuff!

gen said...

if you guys have any boxes of tagalongs, please let me know. i will gladly paypal you the money (plus a donation to cover the idiot mother's cookies). i'm not even kidding, jon.

The Queen said...

Jon- I have been in charge of my son's Cub Scouts in the past, and have had to deal with this with popcorn money. It is hard, but I I think you and your wife are doing the right thing. This girl can't help who her parents are:) I too would be willing to make a donation (but I don't use Paypal) to help cover this girls cookie money...

Jon said...

Gen and Queen - thanks for the offer of donations, but it will all work out, it always does. I hope it didn't appear like I was begging. It was just something that was on my mind.

Gen - we don't have any cookies left, I wish we did. We bought a LOT of cookies, and my boys had them eaten in a few days. The troop buys them in full case lots, and any left over we purchase. They don't last long...

The Queen said...

It didn't look like you were begging, but I have been in your shoes. I am dieting this year so didn't buy any cookies, but would have been happy to donate to the troop:)

Joel said...

That's the kind of situation which would have me in tears, not only for the girl but for the deep pit the mother is digging for herself.

It speaks worlds of your soul that you care about this, jon.