I was 'on-duty' at our local Guides meeting last night. I couldn't say exactly how many girls are involved but I think they'd all packed their individual megaphones.
It was a lively evening. After the various rituals of patrol line-ups, something called a horseshoe and then another thing to do with unfurling a flag, the girls were involved in working towards a 'go for it' badge. This seems to have involved a great deal of discussion and decision making and a great many recyclable bags full of craft materials, sweets, egg boxes and the dreaded glitter.
I have never met a mother who loved glitter, who has welcomed glitter into her home, who has joined the glitter facebook fanpage, who willingly and without persuasion went to a shop and bought glitter of her own accord. Glitter isn't great unless it's stuck very firmly to a pair of A/W2011 Miu Miu shoes.
Glitter is definitely, in my view, inappropriate for a slightly damp yet humid September Monday evening. It is definitely a scary prospect when it is unaccompanied by layers of broadsheet newspaper.
I admit, I reacted badly.
I was a Guide for about a fortnight in the very late 70s, early 80s. I never had the uniform. All I can remember about it is making a mosaic of a boat from tiny pieces of magazine that I was told off for taking too long to cut out. I was reading the magazine and not focusing on the very important task of magazine mosaic.
This is not to say I have a problem with Guides. I think it's a fantastic organisation and one of the few that encourages girls and young women with positive role models and aspirations. Neither am I immune to the lure of groups and gatherings, hence my new found interest in the WI. I think it's more to do with the fact that I just didn't know what to do when I pitched up last night for my stint of press-ganged volunteering (I know - oxymoron alert). Where is the etiquette manual that outlines the correct behaviour for parent helper at Guides? Please can someone send me the link?
I was asked to supervise. Mmmmmm. Tricky one that when you're not in your own home and supervising your own children or those of very, very close friends. Was I to supervise the task? The behaviour? The clearing up afterwards? Was there some kind of understanding from my temporary charges that I was supposed to be supervising or, as I suspect, was I seen as some kind of random mother who has to be there because she's on the rota. Tricky.
I had to have a nice cup of tea and a couple of slices of toast when I got home alongside the Housewives of New York 'best-ofs' and 'never-seens'. I take my hat off to our Guide leader. We parents are asked to contribute two hours of our lives every 12 weeks or so. That's not a great deal to help our girls have a chance to catch up with friends they don't necessarily see at school and maybe learn some new skills on the way. They'll be off on a couple of trips over the next few weeks too, a chance for them to spread their wings a little and take a few more steps to independence.
Perhaps I should have persevered with the mosaic.