Raising children is a career in itself. I am amazed at the young women today who have children and a career as well. It is hard work. With four kids very close in age, we never totally got out of one era, until they were all through it. I recall diaper service delivering three sizes of diapers, a gift from my mother. Thank goodness. We did not have a drier then.
When the gang reached school age, I got involved in their school. Thus, I was hired as one of the first teacher aids by the school district. A novel idea that did not come soon enough for the teachers. Since my hours were the same as my kids, I came and went to school as they did and no one was home alone…. until I took on Girl Scouts.
My stories about being a Scout leader are many. When my son wanted to join Cub Scouts, I was asked if I could help with his troop… like being a den mother. I wasn’t sure I wanted to take on two Scout activities so I told them I was already a Brownie leader. Apparently that was fine with them and Bill joined Cub Scouts, briefly. My time with Girl Scouts was not a brief one. From Brownies to Juniors and, as my own girls grew older and moved into Cadettes, I stayed with the Junior troop: 32 Girls meeting once a week in the church right across the street from the school. It was a great group of kids.
We planned one camp out at the end of the school year. Menus were planned, adult help was arranged, and then we would all drive south to a facility owned by two women who ran a regular camp in the summer. I was not much of an outdoor person having spent all my summers on the Cape, so tent camping wasn’t in my repertoire of talents. This camp had open cabins on platforms… just right for my comfort in camping.
One year it rained. In fact it poured , right around dinner time. The mothers and I were frantically trying to figure out how we would have separate cooking fires for each patrol… getting wet wood to burn, etc. The director saw our dilemma and showed us her barn, dirt floor, open on both ends. We gathered the “cooks” and asked them how we could do this. The result was the blending of menus of four different patrols being tossed into one big pot. We ate in the comfort of the barn, sang songs in the evening. The mothers and I agreed, it was the best stew we ever had but no one could remember what went into it.
Karen was a diabetic who had learned to give herself insulin shots just so she could go camping with the troop. We told the girls about Karen and suggested privacy when she gave her shot. We should have known better… 31 girls watched the procedure and Karen was the heroine of the day amid cries of “ouch” and “how can you do that?”
As my own children grew older, I often became the helping mom for the Cadette troop camp outs. I was “the car” for a bike trip to one of the islands. I carried the food and was there to pick up a stray biker if need be. The need never arose. They rode their bikes up and down every hill screaming “whee” as they rode down hill. At one site they were looking over the map and wondering how the next leg would be. They weren’t sure they really wanted any more up hills.
My car was a VW bus. With scout labor, we removed everything from the bus including the seats, leaving me with my drivers seat only. They all got into the bus, kneeling on the floor with their faces looking out the windows. We drove the route, girls saying “Ohh” as we went up hill, and “whee” as we went down hill. They decided they could manage the ride. We returned to camp, replaced all the seats and they rode their bikes to the new spot. I wish I could remember how many girls there were. You see ads of how many people fit into a Volkswagen, I think we had about 16 in a VW bus.
Girl Scouts on camp outs don’t sleep. They giggle and screech all night long. Getting them to get some sleep was a futile project. Eventually the giggles would end and sleep was possible… for the leaders anyway. On one trip, I was with Cadettes on Vancouver Island. We were staying in a church hall. The girls selected the upper level for themselves and laid out their sleeping bags and gear. The two moms and I were relegated to a basement where there was a very saggy cot. The floor looked like a better alternative so we, too, laid out our sleeping bags and began to talk… and talk… and giggle… and screech with laughter… until many hours into our hilarity one of the scouts entered the basement room and said “Would you please quiet down. We are trying to sleep.”
What wonderful organizations, Boy scouts and Girl Scouts. My three girls all became First Class scouts, and two became camp counselors. My son had one of those devoted fathers, who was also the high school chemistry teacher, who took on Boy scouts and had his troop climb mountains, rock climb, and build their own canoes, with the help of my husband, and head north on a canoe trip. I can’t say enough about the Scout programs in our town.
Then the kids were grown up and ready to move on and so was I. Fortunately we have a college in town that offered classes for teachers and slowly, mostly in the summer, I took classes to become a teacher. I had my own class room by the time my youngest was in high school.
Travel… yes we did travel. That wish came once we managed to get college out of the way for the four kids. But that is another story. In the long run, I guess I have met most of my wishes, to travel the world, to have a career and, also to raise four wonderful people.