I was the top seller of Girl Scout cookies in Illinois for two years in a row. But it was my mom who was the sales star: the first woman in senior management to force her underlings to buy Girl Scout cookies. She sold hundreds of boxes in a day.
Today it’s common for parents to do all the selling. But when I was a Girl Scout moms didn’t go to work, and dads weren’t selling Girl Scout cookies at the office until moms infiltrated corporate life.
I didn’t care about Girl Scout cookies. I knew intuitively that going door to door was a skill I didn’t want. I thought of it like my mom making sure to not learn to type so no one could hire her as a secretary.
I also knew that the girls in Girl Scouts were not cool. I saw myself as slumming just until the popular girls started to like me. But meanwhile, I didn’t want it to be that everyone could see my mom sold all the cookies.
So I knocked on doors every day after school for two weeks. I can remember thinking that I hate knocking on doors. And selling cookies is lonely, but if you go with another kid you have to share all the sales with her.
Today Girl Scouts are a Darth Vader Cookie Empire, but when I was selling people thought Thin Mints were pure and good. Yet for me each sale was bittersweet — a prequel to what I really hated, which was having to keep track of all the boxes of cookies as I was delivering them.
There were so many things wrong with this experience. But in hindsight I think when we have kids do stupid things, “just for the experience” what kids really learn is that stupid things are stupid. Kids need to do real things with real consequences in order to have an experience that matters.
I would have rather failed at selling cookies than been a star because my mom was so great at sales.