Cog made her first visit to Brownies at about 6 weeks old. She went on her first Guide camp when she was 4 years. I pushed her out of Rainbows early and into Brownies at 6 because she was having to attend brownies most weeks with me anyway and doing both was too much for her.
I've tried to do the mum part too, so whilst she was a Rainbow I went in and was mummy rabbit as few times, I also ran parachute games nights for them. I never really lost that tag and became their permanent emergency helper.
At Brownies, as a leader, I consciously didn't pick her for games, flag carrying etc because I was worried about been seen to give her preferential treatment. The only time I ever but my foot down was trips and residentials. My rule was if I'm going as a leader Cog is coming, no hat drawing, no waiting lists. I was not prepared to have done 20 years of volunteering for other people's children to see my own not get a place.
When she moved into Guides I started to go in there to help out and went on Guide camps with them. In fact the 40 years of experience guide leader told me one camp I could not go, she wanted Cog to have at least one without me!
Although it was very handy when I became a Ranger leader to still camp with the guides and supervise the Rangers from a distance. It's much more what they need, space to learn and develop alone but in a controlled environment.
When Cog became a Ranger the Guider in Charge said to me 'are you one of those leaders that think they should get reduced rates for their children?' In that District there is a local rule that children of leaders get a discount. I have always paid the same as any other parent for Cog, for all subscriptions and events. And in fact for Guides I ended up paying more than I should have done but never asked for a refund because as a Leader I didn't want to rock the boat.
So it can be a bit annoying when people point the finger at leaders children and say 'they get preferential treatment.' There are two ways to answer, the first is that they could become a leader and their children could get all those added benefits of not being picked for stuff and not seeing their parent night after night because they are at meetings!
But it is also true that leader's kids do tend to do more and achieve more awards. Partly that is because a Leader is likely to encourage them to do it and understands what is required. But mostly I believe it is because they are exposed to more AKA dragged along to everything!
They are also reliable turn uppers AKA nagged along to everything.
They are the first to arrive, the last to leave and always end up helping to clear up.
In short I believe that they deserve a special pick occasionally.
I have seen about 300 brownies through my doors. Ran numerous rainbow and guide nights. Done eighteen 2 night pack holidays, 3 London residentials, 4 Guide camps, a Ranger camp, wellies and wristbands, numerous 1 night sleepovers with brownies, guides and senior section, more day trips than I can even begin to remember...big gig, cadburys world, jubilee in London, science museum, revels...lots of them!
I've had really hard times when I've invested so much time and effort into individual brownies, the one that survived cancer but emotionally was a mess, the one whose dad went to prison and mum needed support to get brownie to and from meetings. Every time I think about it I remember another special girl and the effort I made. I have been Young Leader advisor trying to motivate teenagers through their qualification...that was a thankless task! As a Ranger leader I feel that I invest much more emotionally and make an effort for each girl as an individual than I ever did with brownies.
I defy anyone to tell me, when I have done this for free for other children, why, just once in a while, my own shouldn't see the thick end of the wedge. I'll add onto that the times I have borrowed stuff fom her personal craft kits, used her pens, her glue. The times she was the one that didn't get to take something home because there weren't enough to go round. The times she's sat putting together pack holiday packs for me, sorting the uniform with me, cutting out templates for me.
She's a leader's child alright. Poor kid. Now I've thought about it, leader's children don't get preferential treatment, they get the sharp end of the stick. But she also understands the joy that comes from being a leader and the hard work involved. I wonder if she will choose one day to become a leader herself. I wonder.