asking for what you want

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I‘ve been missing in action this summer, unplugged, offline, away from my computer and iPhone, fully enjoying my life. Actually, that’s not entirely true. The truth is, that I started another blog, a private one, password protected… for moms of Girl Scout Brownie girls. That’s right, it’s a site for Abigail’s Girl Scout troop. See, at the end of last year’s school year, I re-enrolled to be a troop leader in the Girl Scouts of America. Back in Austin, Texas, I had volunteered as a leader to older girls, and having witnessed the joy it brought me, and the fun the girls and I had, now my own daughter asked when it would be her turn. Since starting the troop, I created the blog to document all our meetings and crafts, lessons, and journeys (from camping trips to bowling parties to learning about bullying, as many of the girls said it was a problem they were facing).

Side Note: Interesting thing about earning a patch on “Standing Up Against Bullying”… it’s always an ongoing conversation. The work and lesson is never “done.” You teach the girls, and they teach one another, but they are still learning, and they make mistakes, and they don’t always put themselves in one another’s shoes. They get it wrong. And you gently remind them of the lessons they’ve already “learned.” “Oh, yeah.” All you can do is be consistent with your messaging, and have the girls teach other girls, and practice. They earn the patch. Then two weeks later, they display a quality of a bad friend, and you maybe point to that badge and say, “I was so proud when you earned this. Remind me again, what are the qualities of a good friend?”

Personally, I’m not a big fan of selling things to people. I despise asking people to do things, in particular, to buy things. So, it was ironic that Abigail wanted to join, not because she wanted to go camping or have weekly meetings with friends, not because she wanted to go on fun trips, learn new skills, or head backstage at a Broadway show to learn the workings of set design, timing, and lights (how amazing that the Girl Scouts does this), no.  She wanted to wear a uniform, and sell Thin Mints.

I get a little nervous cold-calling anyone for anything, including a restaurant… to PLACE A TAKE-OUT ORDER. Intellectually, it’s absurd, of course. But asking people for things, even when you’re willing to pay for them, is hard for many of us, especially women. Not all women, clearly. Plenty of women thrive in sales, and live to share or push their opinions, but on the whole, sadly most women are raised to believe that it’s impolite to be assertive, mistakenly confusing it with “aggressiveness.”

This is why I prefer my friends to be control-freaks. Let them make calls and ask for things, like reservations. I despise asking for things, even when they’re free. What’s wrong with you?  Sure, once I do it, it’s no big deal. But it’s that initial having to talk and be ready with what I’m going to say, that “being prepared” pressure, I guess? When I lived alone, I called no problem, but when there’s someone else to do it for me… perceived helplessness? I’d rather not be involved, just show up. If it’s not what I wanted, it’s still what I wanted because I didn’t have to be involved.

Mind you, all this struggle is INTERNAL. I believe that “selling” is a muscle. With practice, it strengthens. Self-esteem broadens as you face fears and meet goals. Imagine a 7-year-old girl getting practice online (we had the girls learn about cyber-bullying and web-safety), imagine doing it face-to-face, and then being equipped with a response when she’s rejected? How do you beat those skills?

It’s a wonderful lesson in courage, in preparedness, and moxie, and I feel proud. I really do. This Autumn will be baby steps for the girls, practice for Cookie Sales, come winter.

I spend countless hours planning our meetings, opening pledges and promises, a craft for the girls, a lesson and discussion session, a hands-on activity, room for a girl-led experience where the girls lead and make decisions, time for clean-up, a closing song, time for the girls to reflect on what they liked most and least about the meeting, then sharing about what they’re most thankful, and a closing friendship circle. We’ve held meetings all summer, and now we’re back in school and back at it, as they brainstorm their big take-action project (figuring out how to change the world around them, not with a one-off event, but to make a lasting, measurable change that lives on and continues long after their project is executed). My co-leader and I will run the meeting, take notes, let the girls lead, and see where they end up, reminding them that the project needs to be measurable and that it must service the community. That’s right, 7 year olds. All this, plus teaching them the National Anthem and how to properly fold the American Flag, how to march, and how to hold a proper flag ceremony. That’s just ONE MEETING… that leads up to another meeting… you get the overall.

Before this happens, I’ll be busy renting a flag, researching marching commands, printing up song lyrics (with facts), viewing official flag ceremonies and figuring out how to explain “the color guard” to 7 year olds. Who stands where again?

Cookie sales are a long way off (January), but Little Miss has already begun to ramp up. With Fall comes Magazines and Munchies. Can we just stop for a second? This child lived in the NICU for 2 months, and now she’s selling magazine subscriptions! That’s nuts (technically, it’s nuts and chocolate and People Magazine and…)! Abigail and I invite you to poke around, and please consider supporting our Girl Scout Troop. Either way, we thank you very much. And now, back to planning more meetings and attending more training sessions and writing more…



  1. You are such a great mother ! Really. And I had no idea troop mom took that much time. Of course I think you should rent ‘Troop Beverly Hills’ now for a movie night! haha. 80s movie good times.

    I laughed out loud at the weirdness with calling even for a take out order. I do it too (I make my husband do it) and this is an interesting idea, that learned helplessness. Or is it laziness? We all have our neuroses.

    My daughter is 4 so she is not yet at girl scout age. I so want her to join and will sign her up. I always wished my parents had me do that as a girl so I can live vacariously now! We were going to send my son to a intro Boy Scout night at his school. Literally the day I got my husband to agree (too many perverts, he said, etc) I said sure well just on on all the overnight trips as a volunteer. Well. That same morning (@ week ago) on kxan news online I saw a story about a guy who admitted to video taping kids in the showers Camp Tom Wooten (the scout camp they were supposed to attend the following week). I am disgusted and livid. So sad, and now sadly our would be cub is NOT going to participate.

    The Girl Scout activities sound so amazing and I especially love the backstage theater thing; cool even for adults!

  2. GS cookies are the one great exception to my aversion toward pushing product. Push all you want, they are an American institution!

  3. Just saying … my Girl Scout leader went rogue with all that they wanted to have her/us hawk in the name of Girl Scouts. She made a Girl Sprouts group, we held our own bake sales, to fund sprout activities. It was liberating and a good lesson learned all around.

  4. I love this post. My daughter is in pre-k, so I am just now getting a glimpse of what is to come. I have been struggling internally as well, but it is because I know that I need to be involved in her school and with the other parents. I want to be an active, involved mom. But, I’m pretty shy in new social settings, and I always get so anxious leading up to them. I know I need to just rip off the band-aid, so to speak, and this post is definitely good inspiration.

    1. Author

      It is not always easy, but there are good people wherever you are. It just takes time to find them. The worst thing you can do is try to rush it or force it. Slow and steady, and be true to who you are, and you’ll get there. But yes, you do have to act “as if” you are the person you want to become.

  5. Hi Stephanie,

    Greetings from a dull and cloudy England! I just wanted to add something regarding this & the previous post from you. It is all very well people telling you to get a job, get off the crazy train etc, wanting to find out about your day to day life..

    HOWEVER, I think it is worth remembering that you are in an extremely privileged position. You have two happy healthy children, and a husband who can support you all. You have taken a decision (NOT the easiest decision, regardless of what others may say) to devote YOUR time in these early crucial years to your children. There are millions of mothers who are not able to do this. To read a blog of a mother who CAN and is doing so in such a FULL and COLORFUL way is absolutely beautiful.

    These precious years will not last forever. Your children’s work assignments will not always require your help. In fact, they may not always want your help!

    So I for one will not EVER suggest that you may need to get a job, ask you what you do with your day or ever imply that you may not be living your life to the fullest. I have read your blog for 7 years and I can see that you are at the happiest you have ever been. And part of this is to do with the fact that there are less posts.

    Anyway, sorry if that turned into a lecture! Just know that there is someone reading who totally appreciates what you are doing for your children and family. You are giving them the ultimate gift – beautiful childhood memories and a mother who is fully engaged with them.

    Thanks X

  6. Girl Scout cookies are a weakness of mine, as they are with nearly anybody who has taste buds. But I have a hard time paying for them, and that has almost nothing to do with the Girl Scout herself or the cookies. Mostly, I have a hard time pulling out my wallet and paying so much for so little product. This actually goes for most kids fund raisers: the price of the product is far too much for what you get. And this would be okay if the organization received funds from the purchase. Or at least not enough to make the purchase worthwhile.

    When kids approach me with a fund raiser brochure, I usually just write a check or give cash to the organization directly.

  7. I also have a hard time with ordering things on the phone and asking for stuff. Glad to know that I’m not the only one. Like you said, it is no problem once I do it, I just have to spend a bunch of time psyching myself up.

    I think it is wonderful that you were working with young girls.

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