Sunday, April 1, 2012

The Red Dress Playlist: "Teach Your Children Well"

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!



Andrea said...

Aha! Now there is a saint I could pray to! I was a girl scut leader for four years, but cub scouts scare me!

Wily Guy said...

Way to go Jen! A scouting adventure and we didn't smell the smoke or taste the ash (I said asH) of your adventure on the East coast!


Jen said...

ANDREA - Eating cupcakes without a napkin is about as rustic as I get.

SCOTT - Keep watching CNN, my dickery is bound to be covered there eventually.

Anonymous said...

Wow, way to go! Awesome contributions to the club. ;-) I want a cupcake now... but a really good one.

Brett Minor said...

Congrats on pushing your way through and forcing him to let you help. I keep getting banned from functions.

Chillin'Villain said...

Nice Castle reference :-D

Happy April Fools...

Jen said...

BOZO - Saint Cupcake is magical. I think they put rainbows in their frosting.

BRETT - I'm quite sure Rob went home and banged his head against the wall repeatedly after our exchange.

CV - What 'Castle' reference? LOL, how could I miss it? :)

Bill Dameron said...

I made it all the way to Tenderfoot in scouts. Bugs, latrines and fart jokes never were my thing.

Bexstar said...

My mum sifted me off to Pippins when I was 6 years old. And for a long while I got amongst it.

Until I turned 12 & had climbed the ladder of do-gooders to become a Girl Guide. That's when everything started to go downhill.

I used to spend our weekly girl guide meets talking on the guide den phone to boys, or prank calling the local police, lighting fires both inside & out, & smoking rolled tea leaves in the toilets pretending I was a bad ass cigarette smoker. I never wore my uniform & when we had to stand & sing our praises to Lord & Lady Baden whothefuckever, I refused to sing & instead of saluting the girl guide handsign, I would stand with my peers & proudly do the fingers.

My mum was my guide leader. One day she had enough of my shit & kicked me out. Lesson learnt? No not really. I just got to hang out at home with my Dad & watch TV.

Jen said...

BILL - Fart jokes are totally my thing, but camping? Dirt? Oh HELL no.

BEX - Ha! My mom kicked my sorry ass out of Girl Scouts too! Yeah, that was a proud moment in parenting.

Chillin'Villain said...

Always Buy Retail...otherwise you might be involved in an illegal alien-passport smuggling-creepy-murdering-voodoo esque scenario.

Oh...the life lessons you learn on Castle.... ;-)

Misty said...

Oh my god....I might even be convinced to go on a hike if there are CUPCAKES after! Ok, I'm totally lying. Me and hiking, along with anything else "active" and "outside," do not get along. I would just skip right to the cupcakes, thanks!

Jen said...

CV- How did I not catch that? I am so Castle-shamed.

MISTY- I would CAMP for a cupcake. . .nah, that's bullshit. But Saint Cupcake is totally on the list when you hit P-Town.

WeezaFish said...

Awesome scouting, well done. I think the Nutritional trip to Saint Cupcake sounds very educational, can I come?

Starle said...

Well done Jen! I'm too socially awkward to even sign my girls up for Girl Guides! Maybe i'll get brave and do it next year!

Tainted Fibers said...

I was such an under achieving Mother. But I WAS a Den Mother. I hated it. But my son remembers it fondly, so I guess it was a good thing. He signed his boys up for Scouts as well. It's refreshing to see a 'normal' mother (although I suspect that you put yourself down in the name of comedy sometimes). My daughter is super mom and my daughter in law is 3 year PTO president. GAH! How do you compete? I don't. My kids think I am fabulous, so that's all that matters.

Jen said...

WEEZA - All are welcome at Saint Cupcake; it is a benevolent dictatorship.

STARLE - I was a Girl Guide too when we lived in Australia. They were a lot more hard-core. :)

FIBERS - Sadly, my failings as a parent are rarely exaggerated. ((sigh)) But I love the hell out of my short people and they seem relatively, there's that.

Cindy said...

Okay, so that's 2 weekends in a row that it hasn't rained didn't rain when I was there either...climate change perhaps? Anyway, I went running at that park when I was up. It's down the street from my son's place. It's so pretty there in the fall. Anyway, good job doing the den mother thing. A lot of parents either don't have the time or won't take the time. Bravo!

Jen said...

CINDY - That is one of my favorite running areas. Have you been to Forest Park too?

Kelly said...

This made my day. Will you take me on a hike through Nordstrom? I didn't get to be in scouts.

Jen said...

KELLY- Absolutely. Then we can eat s'mores at the Heathman Hotel Happy Hour. :)

Anonymous said...

I was a chick scout, does that mean I will have to volunteer with dude scouts? And if so, will they think it's weird that I don't have children? And if they're fine with that, will I get to go to Saint Cupcake? And if the answer is yes, does the Lord approve of this establishment?