Standing up

It’s happened, guys. I’ve finally learned how to stand up for myself, to set a boundary and do it in a kind way. I’ve finally learned to state my difference in opinion without getting mean.

Saturday, my Daisy troop attended camp. During our camping adventures, there was a pretty big disagreement with my co-leader. It was over his unilateral decision that the girls— who will be brownies next year— wouldn’t participate in the bridging ceremony at camp because his own daughter is not continuing on. He ended up getting quite mean, and said some cruel things. I eventually snapped, but I held it together for a long time.

Things ended up okay, because a mom from our troop overheard the whole exchange, and felt that my point was valid, and that I was in the right. The troop moms discussed the thing, sided with me, and the girls were able to participate in the ceremony.

I wrote him a letter, not to send, but to get my feelings out. I’ll share that here.

Dear (co leader),

You were completely out of line, and extremely rude. What you said was cruel, and untrue.

I am saddend, and hurt by your feelings that I have consistently forced you to do what is best for my daughter, and have left your daughter out. In my heart, I feel that I did my best to treat all the girls equally, and to be a leader by choosing what was best for the majority of our troop, regardless of what was best for my daughter— or yours

I can not say the same for you.

We didn’t have snacks at meetings because it would spoil Katie’s dinner.

A parent was told not to bring pizza as a reward for hard work to wrap up cookie season bacause Katie doesn’t like pizza.

We stopped doing magic scrap during clean up because Katie got upset and cried everytime she wasn’t the one to find the scap.

You didn’t want to do SWAPS at each meeting because crafts with fine motor skills frustrate Katie.

You didn’t want to do crafts in general because Katie needs more time to complete things than we can allocate during meetings.

We didn’t sing songs because Katie doesn’t like to sing.

We weren’t allowed to play freeze dance as an opening activity because Katie gets too wound up when we do.

We couldn’t play games because Katie can’t handle losing.

And on and on. Almost every suggestion or idea I had was met with, “well, Katie doesn’t like that.”

I understand wanting to make things comfortable for our kids. I understand wanting them to be happy. As a parent, of course I understand that. It’s what we all want for our kids. The thing is though, when you sign on to lead a Girl Scout Troop— or really any small group of kids, be it scouting, or a school activity, or soccer, or a small group at church— it’s no longer just about YOUR kid. It can’t be. When you put yourself in a position of leadership, of power, over a group of children, the focus has to become what is best for the group as a whole. It can no longer be about what is best for your child.

I can think of one time where I said we couldn’t do something because my daughter didn’t want to, and even then the “we” was myself and my daughter— not the entire troop. Your main concern the last two years was not upsetting Katie. You have had a double standard the entire time you have been troop leader; if Katie wanted to do something, but another girl didn’t your stance on the matter was “too bad, this is what we are doing”, but as soon as Katie didn’t want to do something, then we just weren’t doing it. You made a huge deal and gave a special presentation for Katie bringing back a special swap for our troop flag when you took her to a special event, yet when a mom asked you to get a special award for her daughter who called 911 when mom was severely injured, you simply handed the girl the patch after the meeting was over. How is this fair? How is this not you giving your daughter special treatment over the other girls?

Your favoritism towards your daughter has been unfair to the entire troop. I also happen to believe that it is a disservice to her; one day she will learn the sun doesn’t rise and set on her shoulders, and that is going to be a painful, heart breaking day for her.

The decision that our troop wouldn’t bridge at the camp ceremony— along with all the other girls in our area— based upon the fact that one girl wasn’t bridging up to Brownies was unfair to the rest of the troop. I’m sorry you felt that I didn’t care if Katie would be upset. I’m sorry that you felt I wanted her to be singled out. This wasn’t a case of me not caring about Katie’s feelings. I care about Katie as much as I care about every other girl in our troop. I saw the situation differently than you, and felt that it was unfair to expect the rest of the girls in our troop not to bridge because of one girl. Had the situation been reversed, I never would have expected this. I would have explained to my daughter that she wasn’t bridging because we had chosen not to continue with girl scouts, and we could watch her friends bridge and be happy for them or that we could join in because she had completed two years of Daisies, and deserved to celebrate that. There didn’t need to be any hurt feelings, there were many options and ways to handle this situation. My concern was for the troop as a whole. The girls deserved to participate in that ceremony.

Clearly, you were triggered when I pushed back on this issue. The thing is, I pushed back calmly and from a place of curiosity. My question was “What about the 7 girls who are bridging? How is it fair to make them sit out the ceremony and watch every other bridging troop participate because of one girl who is not bridging?” I should have walked away when your response was a snarky, “I see. I see, it is just fine for my kid to be the one left out as long as no one else’s kid feels upset!” Unfortunately, I didn’t walk away, and tried again to have an adult conversation. “That isn’t what I am saying. I’m posing the question of if it is fair to have the rest of the troop miss out on something because one of the girls is not continuing on?” We went back and forth, me attempting to question why it was okay to keep an experience from the entire troop because of one girl and asking how you thought the girls would feel watching everyone else get to bridge, and you continuing to say that you didnt want Katie to feel singled out, or left out, or have her feelings hurt that she didn’t get to bridge, and then you finally going off on me about my spoiled daughter and how she and I have ruined your and Katie’s experince of Daisies. I regret my sarcastic, “Fine. Fine. Just do whatever will make Katie happy.” However, the way you behaved was way out of line. Firstly, because if that were something you felt to be true, you should have had a mature discussion about it with me way before now. Secondly, as I stated earlier, as a leader, we have to do what is best for the majority, not what is best for my kid or yours. Are there times where accomadaions had to be made for my daughter? Absolutely, because she is autistic. Not one of those accommodations were made at the expense of the troop, though. My daughter knows she doesn’t get special consideration because she is the leader’s child, or because she is autistic.

I did my very best to express my differnce in opinion from a place of kindness, of understanding where you were coming from, and with curiosity. I’m sorry if that didn’t come across to you in my words, but I truly was not trying to upset you, or hurt your feelings. I wanted to have a conversation, to share our different views and to come to a descion together. I’m sorry it did not work out the way I had intended.

Alice

2 thoughts on “Standing up

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