A few weeks back, I started a self-improvement project, inspired by Jenny Lawson, the Great Bloggess. To read about the origin of my project, look here. For the short version, each week I will set out to conquer something that is holding me back from being the person I want to be. A relationship, a memory, a fear. . .anything that makes me less than I am. I will attack each challenge wearing my red dress as a cape for inspiration and as a symbol of the superheroes we all are inside. My goal is to undertake the daunting task of taking one crazy, neurotic, and mentally unstable woman and molding her into a productive member of our crazy, neurotic, and mentally unstable society.
A couple of years ago I got the short people signed up for Cub Scouts so that they could learn honor, respect, how to skin a bear, or some shit like that. OK, let's be honest. I signed them up so there was somewhere I could legally drop them off for a couple of hours while I went to Pilates. Sue me. Anyway, I decided for my Challenge this week that I would take a more active role in the scouting experience by actually attending a few pack. . .den?. . .ummm. . .animal gathering meetings to pledge my support. Quality parenting for the win!
So at the last meeting I approached the Den Leader and told him I'd like to be more involved. Let's call him, Rob. . .because that's actually his name and I'm too lazy to think of another one.
ROB: So, what would you say is your 'motto', Jen.
JEN: Always buy retail and never date a guy who's prettier than me!
ROB: . . .
JEN: Umm, aaaaaand. . .scouting is cool?
ROB: Well, our motto is to always "Do Your Best".
JEN: Oh! Yeah! Do your best, totally!
ROB: So, right now we're discussing foreign cultures with the boys. Have the boys been exposed to any foreign cultures?
JEN: Absolutely! Last week they watched 'Kung Fu Panda' and evrytime we go to the mall we eat in the food court. They have tons of ethnic cuisine like Taco Time, Sbarro, ooh! And that darling little Thai place! Have you been there?
ROB: Ummm. . .no.
So, you can probably guess what happened next. Rob's eyes were darting around the room like a Gitmo detainee searching for an egress from my verbal waterboarding. I finally relieved him by slinking off to a corner to help little Billy paint flags on his mini-model of the U.N. I was obviously out of my league but determined to persevere, so I agreed to accompany the den on their weekend hike in Tryon Creek Park.
Tryon Creek is a GORGEOUS section of protected wildlife, filled with winding trails, fields of trillium, and towering pines. Basically, picture the forest scene in "Twilight" without the sparkly vampires and poor scripting. For all of it's majestic glory, however, the park has the dubious distinction of being located outside and as I am someone who is not fond of dirt, plants, or fresh air, I was about as enthusiastic as Newt Gingrich at a N.O.W. rally. But I must admit, the day passed by with a relative lack of discomfort. It did not rain,*
*Which is a fucking miracle for March in Portland.
the short people were ridiculously well-behaved, and I was proud to have remembered all of the words to "Kum-Ba-Yah" (holla!). At the end of the hike we had a picnic lunch under the pines and I regaled the campers with tales of my Girl Scouting youth.
CUB SCOUT 1: Miss Jen, did you sell cookies.
JEN: Well, kind of. Mostly we just conned my parents' friends into buying them.
CUB SCOUT 2: Did you go on hikes? And learn to start campfires? And how to build a shelter?
JEN: Umm. . .not really. But we went to Skate World once! And I remember a field trip to Nordstrom.
SCOUTS: . . .
MY SON J: Mommy? Who was your Den Leader?
JEN: Your grandma.
OK, so maybe it's genetic. But while I may not have emerged from my scouting days with the ability to build a fire or skin a raccoon, I do remember hanging out with my friends, laughing a lot, and being proud that my mother was there to share in the fun with me. So while I may be more Elle Woods than Daniel Boone, I want to be there for my short people. Still, I was a little nervous when Rob approached and asked if I'd help out with the next activity.
ROB: We're going to be discussing nutrition.
JEN: Wow. Not really my avenue.
ROB: Well, I thought we'd start by discussing ingredients and then do a quick baking demonstration and then a field trip to Saint Cupcake.
JEN: Saint Cupcake? The. . .the one with the scrummy red velvet cakes, and. . .and. . .and the lemon chiffon?
ROB: Umm, I think so.
JEN: Oh, Rob. (tearing up and grasping his arm) You had me at 'hello'.
Happy Scouting, y'all!