Badges of honour

When I was 8, I promised to do my best, to do my duty, to God, the Queen and my country. I was a Brownie, in a brown canvas dress with an orange and white maple leaf scarf tied at the neck and a gold-buckled belt at the waist. I belonged to the Sprites, and if I got all my badges and hung in until a certain age I would be a bona fide Girl Guide.

My mother, bless her sweet guidance, suffered mother’s guilt for working full time. To help reduce that, she often supported my extra-curricular activities by volunteering. Sucker. Lucky for me, she knew I needed her too. I was a gangly, awkward, four-eyed girl and I needed help to navigate the world around me, more than most perhaps.

She didn’t let me down. She over-achieved. Within weeks of signing me to a Brownie pack, my talented, totally organized mother was quickly coerced into becoming our fearless Brownie leader, Brown Owl, a title she took to heart with a rather competitive streak to make our Brownie pack the coolest in our region. We totally were, the coolest I mean. Toowit, toowhoo.

So, when my son asked to join the Cub Scouts, I was supportive. Anything that gets a boy active and away from video games and television is worth it. Besides, I can see he is much like his father, the Carpenter, and that means he needs to do manly, guy stuff like nailing stuff to other stuff, or digging stuff up, or the all important task of gathering sticks to make huge bonfires that he will spend countless hours fussing over, just to get the coals to a perfect orange hue for roasting the perfect marshmallow. For that obsessive masculine behaviour he will be rewarded with the almighty badge, in an honour system that encourages him to connect with nature and doesn’t involve the bribery of candy or cash. That works for me.

When my son came home with his first badge for carpentry, I don’t know who was more excited in my house. What I didn’t expect was the ineptitude I would feel. Oh sure, I was thrilled with the badge and the group of allegiance patches to go with it, but now I had to admit yet another mommy flaw: I don’t know how to sew. Not a button, or a stitch, and certainly not a badge. I don’t own a sewing kit. Ugh. By today’s standards, I would have to revoke my Brownie status.

There was no hiding the truth. I was going to have to fess up. Worse still, I was going to have to find someone who could sew, and fast. Can you imagine the humiliation I would have to endure for admitting this to another mother? Scouts honour, all I wanted to do was glue those badges on and see if anyone noticed.

Imagine my surprise to learn that my son was sending his grandmother secret emails, with adorable pleas for assistance to sew his badges onto his Cub uniform. He didn’t trust me to sort it out. Who could blame him? But grandma could do it. Grandma can do anything. It’s true.

I wasn’t insulted. I was relieved. Nobody understands the pressure of a working mom better than my retired mom.

Looks like my mom is still helping me navigate this world. Thankfully.


Kelly Waterhouse