I may be the only person on earth who gets angry at the sight of little boy scouts and girl scouts with their parents at the entrances and exits of grocery stores.
I know you've seen this before. There will be a fold out table full of the item being sold with a mother or father energetically pitching the item to shoppers. If you ask the child a question about the cookies or candy bars, the child will look confused and will frantically get the parent's attention so she can answer the question for you. Then the child, usually in uniform, can relax and go back to sitting quietly like the prop he has become.
This sight makes me angry because it's cheating, and I ought to know, having once been a girl scout cookie peddler myself. Not only is it cheating the system, it's cheating the kid.
Think about it. All through their childhoods kids are told not to talk to strangers when, in fact, as adults this is a skill they'll use pretty much every day. Selling these cookies door to door is their one chance to practice. In fact, they'll probably get to practice a lot of other skills too: calling grownups Sir or Ma'am, being polite even when the other person is being rude, telling someone Thank You Anyway even when they tell you No. And hearing the word No over and over and continuing to try.
In my neighborhood it was just assumed that anyone with a school age child would at some point push them into the Door to Door ranks. The unspoken rule was that you were obligated to buy your neighbor kid's item so that they would buy from your kid when the time came. Once we'd exhausted our neighborhood, we took it on the road. My mom would drive me into other neighborhoods and she'd stop the car in front of each house and watch to be sure I didn't get kidnapped as I hauled two very heavy cookie filled cartons up the walkway to each door.
But hear me: she stayed in the car. She wasn't the one trying to earn a badge, that was my goal and that's why she made me do the work. If I'd asked her to sell my cookies for me she would have laughed her head off and then told me not to be lazy.
So I went to each door and heard numerous variations of No. Most people said they already had enough cookies. I was seven, wearing a Brownie beanie and with my hair in two long braids. Hey, if you ask me, I was adorable, but apparently I wasn't gifted at selling.
My sister noticed that I kept returning home with the same amount of cookies I'd left with and she decided I needed to change my sales pitch. This was a rare occasion, having my big sister pay attention to me, so I listened carefully and then, the next day when my mom took me cookie selling, I did exactly what my big sister had said.
A bored looking woman answered the door and I said "Hi, my mom says I need to sell all these cookies (sniffle) and that I can't come home (sniffle) until I sell them ALL (full sobbing here)!"
The woman bought a lot of cookies. So did the next house and the next and I learned another good skill which was Acting.
My mom was confused why I was suddenly so successful and I told her the new way my sister had told me to sell the cookies. She laughed for a long time. Then she told me it was okay but not to tell the troop leader the trick.
"Because SHE'S not the one who has to carry those heavy cartons, right?" my mom asked.
"Right!" I agreed.
So yes, there was a bit of lying involved, but at least I was the one doing the lying. I think my mom agreed because if I hadn't been able to sell the cookies, she would have been stuck buying them all. In this way, the dishonesty worked out for everyone. And once I successfully sold cookies I then had to handle money and make accurate change, more skills the kids don't get when their parents do the selling for them.
And of course when I was younger the Door to Door bit didn't end with the cookies. All the kids were regulars on the sales circuit. Candy bars, Christmas decorations, magazine subscriptions. We got to know our neighbors well.
Some of my friends now take the Selling For Their Child bit one step further: the parent sells the item to friends and coworkers, taking orders, collecting the money and delivering the goods all without the child even being aware a sale has taken place.
So you parents, the ones who seem to be trying to earn Good Parent badges as you stand behind that table at the grocery store: you aren't fooling anyone. And by the way, you're 50 feet away from an entire aisle filled with lower priced cookies, many of them Pepperidge Farm.
You can't outsell Pepperidge Farm and no way can you outcookie them.
From: Starfish On Thursday
From: Starfish On Thursday