Oct 5, 201208:49 AM
Joie d'Eve

Living, loving, laughing, and learning in the new New Orleans

Uniform Appeal

Ruby in her Daisy uniform.

When I was in the second grade, I dragged my mom to an after-school meeting at my elementary school, McDonogh 15 in the French Quarter. My mom and I share a similar disinclination to leave our homes once we have gotten off of work and changed into sweatpants, and to top it off, parking always, always sucks in the Quarter. But she went because she knew it was important to me – it was the prerequisite meeting for becoming a Brownie Scout, and I had been begging to be a Brownie for weeks.

 

We sat patiently with a bunch of other girls and their moms as the Scout leader explained how you earned badges and went on campouts and made bird feeders out of pine cones and sold cookies and helped the elderly and so on.

 

“So what do you think?” my mom asked as we walked back to our car. “Do you want to do it?”

 

“Oh, yes!” I said.

 

But my mom knew me a little too well.

 

“So what are you most excited about?” she asked. “The cookies?”

 

“No. I don’t really want to have to talk to strangers and make them buy things.”

 

“Oh. So is it the crafts?”

 

“No. You know I can’t do crafts.”

 

(My mom did know. She watched me have meltdown after frustrated meltdown every month after I tried, and consistently failed, to re-create the projects I saw in Highlights for Children. And even now, I still have an occasional Pinterest-fueled burst of crafty inspiration that results in a project that Ruby could have done 10 times better. I do have my strengths, but making crafts is not one of them.)

 

“Oh,” my mom continued. “So is it the campouts?”

 

“Camping?” I said. “Like in a tent? Outside? No.”

 

“I know it’s not sleep-away camp that appeals to you,” she said.

 

“No. I can’t even sleep at Kate O’Connell’s house for one night.”

 

“Sweetie,” my mom said, “if you want to be a Girl Scout, I want you to be, 100 percent. But I really don’t think it sounds like something you’d like. What exactly is it that you like about the Girl Scouts?”

 

“The uniforms,” I whispered.

 

“What?”

 

“The uniforms. I like the uniforms. I want to wear a uniform.”

 

My mom said that wasn’t a good enough reason to join the Girl Scouts. She said we could just buy a Girl Scout uniform at Thrift City and I could wear it whenever I wanted and not have to sell cookies to strangers or sleep outdoors. I said that sounded great to me.

 

I have always been weirdly fascinated by uniforms. I went to public school my entire life, in an age when that meant no uniforms, and I was bitterly jealous of my friends at Sacred Heart and Mount Carmel and Dominican and Cabrini. I ached to wear plaid skirts and monogrammed blouses and saddle shoes.

 

When I got my first job, answering phones at the Contemporary Arts Center where my mom worked, that was the only thing I asked during the job interview: “Do I get to wear a uniform?”

 

“No, you don’t have to wear a uniform,” my boss said.

 

During the pop art exhibit, I bought a Keith Haring shirt from the gift shop and pretended it was my uniform.

 

When Ruby was little, I almost sent her to a day care center whose educational philosophy could not possibly have been further away from my own and whose headmistress inspired both panic and deep resentment in just the 20 minutes I spent talking to her  – but damn, they had the cutest uniforms! In toddler sizes!

 

Her current school, Morris Jeff Community School, has a strict uniform policy, and I embrace it. I was pretty close to giddy when I was ordering her navy polos and Peter Pan collared blouses and khaki pleated skirts. I particularly love the maroon sweater embroidered with her first initial and last name.

 

And now, Ruby has decided to join the Girl Scouts as an adorable little Daisy.

 

As in all things, she is my exact opposite. She is super-excited about selling cookies to strangers. “I ask strangers if they’re nice,” she assures me. “And if they say yes, then I can talk to them.”

 

She is pretty good at making crafts, and she thinks camping is awesome. She would love nothing better than a week away from home with other kids doing outdoorsy stuff. In fact, the only thing she doesn’t like is the uniform.

 

“Blue is a stupid color,” she said of her Daisy tunic. “They should have made it pink. Or purple. Or red. Ooh, or rainbow!”

 

Her first Scout meeting is today, and I’m happy for her, but I’m also a little worried. I’m afraid I’m going to get roped into Scouting activities myself, and they hold even less appeal to me now than they did 25 years ago.

 

I will happily eat Girl Scout cookies, but that’s about where my interest ends. I am definitely, definitely not camping.

 

And the worst part is, even if I somehow find myself making a lanyard while eating Thin Mints and singing campfire songs in the great outdoors (which, despite my protests, I am entirely sure I will), I still don’t think I get to wear the uniform.

 

Reader Comments:
Oct 5, 2012 10:45 am
 Posted by  swimp lover in Utah

You know, if you become a Girl Scout leader you could finally wear a uniform!

Oct 5, 2012 11:15 am
 Posted by  ankajo

I was a Girl Scout leader for eight years! Although I had no real camping, crafting or cookie selling experience I involved the parents who did possess these skills.
I explained to the parents, at our initial meeting, that it would only work if they did. I was amazed at the response. I had stumbled upon one Mom who knew just about every campfire song ever written, another Mom who was a master at crafts and Dads offering to accompany the troop on outdoor activities. The girls in my troop benefited and I learned. It also gave the parents an opportunity to be part of their daughter's Girl Scout experience.

I can only encourage anyone with a daughter in a Girl Scout troop to become involved. We all have something to offer! The uniform just came with the job! I wore it proudly!

Oct 5, 2012 12:42 pm
 Posted by  maddy63

Girl Scouts is more than cookies, crafts, and camping! How about letting an older girl shadow you in your job, or lead a Media workshop? We'll be happy to plug you and your interests into Girl Scouting! And hey, Ruby is going to need some adult supervision as she sells those cookies! I've never volunteered at Girl Scouts - just work for them - put as a mom of two Girl Scouts myself - I sure spent alot of time accompanying them as they sold cookies!

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Joie d'Eve

Living, loving, laughing, and learning in the new New Orleans

about

Eve is further proof, if any is needed, that New Orleans girls can never escape the city. After living here since the age of 3 and graduating from Ben Franklin High School, Eve moved to Columbia, Mo., where she received bachelor’s and master’s degrees from the Missouri School of Journalism and became truly, unhealthily obsessed with grammar.

She had originally intended to strike out to New York City and work in the cutthroat magazine industry there, but after Katrina, Eve felt a strong pull to return home, to her roots, her family, her waterlogged and struggling city – and a much more forgiving work atmosphere that would allow her to skip a routine of everyday makeup and size 0 designer label business suits and enjoy the occasional cocktail or three with an absurdly fattening lunch. She moved back home in January 2008 and lives in Mid-City with her two daughters, Ruby and Georgia; her stepson, Elliot; and her husband, Robert Peyton.

Eve blogs about the joys and struggles of living in post-Katrina New Orleans, the unique problems and delights of raising a child in such a diverse and challenging city – including her experiences with the public education system – and her always entertaining and extremely colorful family.

Eve has won numerous writing awards, including the Pirates Alley Faulkner Society Gold Medal, the Society of Professional Journalists Mark of Excellence award for column-writing and Press Club of New Orleans awards for her Editor’s Note in New Orleans Homes & Lifestyles and for this blog, most recently winning the award for "Best Feature Affiliated Blog."

She welcomes comments, advice, empty flattery, recipes, drink invitations and – most especially – grammatical or linguistic debates.

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