When it comes to the famed mommy wars, I’m pretty much a conscientious objector. I not only don’t care what you do with your kids, I object to the whole idea that if I do care it means that we are at war.
Seriously, carry your kid around in a hemp sling that you wove yourself, leave your kid parked in front of the TV for 8 hours a day, feed him nothing but McDonald’s or nothing but organic tofu, I don’t care.
But, the Girl Scouts of America (GSA) may push me into the wars. I have found myself increasingly aggravated by mothers using Facebook to sell their daughter’s girl scout cookies.
I love Facebook, I use it in my own work. I think social media and trading on connections to accomplish something is legitimate and useful. I will gladly ask you to “like” my blog posts and retweet messages that I need to get out for work. I will use it to ask you to help me find a job. I will even use it to ask you to support my cause. But my daughter’s troop isn’t my cause, it’s hers, and she doesn’t know from Facebook.
In my mind, Facebook is not only not appropriate for selling girl scout cookies, it actually defeats the purpose of selling them and also the purpose of Facebook.
What is the purpose of selling girl scout cookies? I don’t think it’s about making money for the troop. Honestly, I’ll spend more money shipping the cookies to out of town friends and family than the troop will make off the boxes.
I think selling cookies is about teaching our girls not only some basic selling skills, but also some basic social connection skills.
My one positive memory of being in Girl Scouts is selling cookies. I loved it, the strategizing over who to ask and the rare opportunity to make a long-distance phone call to my grandparents. Mainly though I loved Mrs. Gladstein, my favorite Hebrew School teacher. Every year I would ask her if she wanted to buy a box of cookies. She would very seriously look at the list, and then say in her vague, European accent “Ach, I can’t decide, you tell me, what are the best?” I would tell her to get Tagalongs. Then, when delivery time came I would bring her box of Tagalongs to the Jewish Community Center. “Oy,” Mrs. Gladstein would say, “I seem to remember that you like these, you should keep them dear.”
Now, I was, to put it mildly, a child in need of adult attention and connection. The fact that Mrs. Gladstein and her yearly gift of girl scout cookies still makes me cry is proof of that. My own daughter is hopefully not so needy. But she has her own version. When she got her order sheet the first thing she said was, “Oh, my uncles will buy from me.”
Watching her approach her uncles (my oldest friends) and watching them fall over themselves to order more cookies than even they can eat, there’s no doubt that she is not learning much about the hard sell. But she is learning something else.
She’s learning that there are special people in her life. Adults she can depend on for absolutely anything. Adults who notice her, love her and support her. Adults who one day she can text, tweet, FB poke, or activate the implant in her brain to telepathically connect to and they will do anything from buying a box of cookies to bailing her out of jail to calling her mother to tell her something difficult.
Selling cookies to people is one small step in learning how connections are made.
It’s certainly overstating the case to say that if I use Facebook to sell my daughter’s cookies, my daughter will not learn how to create social networks on her own. I’m not opposed to parents asking some friends or coworkers on behalf of their daughters, but I feel like at least the impetuous for that ask has to come from the child herself. Since my daughter doesn’t even know Facebook exists, so I don’t see her thinking of it as a sales tool.
So, at the risk of being a sanctimommy I ask you this. Before you update your status to ask people to buy cookies, ask yourself why. Why is your daughter selling cookies and is this really helping her meet those goals?
If you decide to do it anyway, that’s fine, I promise you, we aren’t at war. I’ll even bring over a hemp baby sling filled with chicken nuggets to prove it.