TAKING A LIGHTER LOOK: That’s how the Girl Scout cookie crumbles

Just in case you haven't noticed, it's Girl Scout cookie time lately.

Having seen one daughter and two granddaughters grow up, I have a weakness for little cherubs saying “pleeeease” (as well as a weakness for Thin Mints). One year I happened to be talking with my neighbor by the street when a neighborhood Girl Sprout, accompanied by her father, approached us.

I of course quickly ordered two boxes of the popular and overpriced Thin Mints, but my neighbor demurred. He’s a good man, so instead of turning her away disappointed he gave her a couple of dollars, saying that he wanted to contribute to the Scouts but didn’t need the cookies. Those two dollars were probably more than what the Scouts get for the cookies anyway.

(A little research here: The regional Girl Scout Council gets the lion’s share, about 55 percent. The individual troop gets about 10-20 percent, and 25-35 percent goes to the baker … there are variations among councils on price and distribution. Our Council is Western Ohio, at gswo.org. The national Girl Scouts of the USA contracts with two bakers and receives a separate “royalty.”)

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So at $4 a box, you can do the math on how much the troops gets.

I thought nothing of it at the time, but later started wondering what would happen to that $2. Naturally it would belong to the individual troop and council, but there are glaring alternatives. I considered possible scenarios and found that some of them (all of them, really) touched on morality, role modeling, and parenting in general. Consider these potential comments by the father to his Girl Scout daughter:

a. "That was nice of him, honey. We'll turn that in with the rest of the money you collect."

b. "That was nice of him."

c. (Silence; nothing.)

d. "Well, now. What do you think we should do with that money?"

e. "You can keep that money for yourself, you know. I think he was just thanking you for all the work you have to put in selling the cookies. I don't think he even intended it to go to the troop."

f. "You could just keep that money for yourself."

g. "You should just keep that money for yourself; no one will know about it. And don't tell anyone."

h. "Give me that. No one will know about it. And for God's sake, don't tell anyone."

Any others?

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Note that b, d, and f are short and only d is interrogative; they leave the next step to the daughter. They place her in a position to decide, based on previous upbringing (nurture) and her inherent sense of right and wrong (nature), what she should do. Dad may have some idea what he wants or expects of her, but we don’t know what that is. He may even be, consciously or unconsciously, testing her a bit.

But I have faith in the goodness of this new new generation in general, and certainly the Girl Scouts in particular. And those Thin Mints were great.

David Shumway is one of our regular community contributors.

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