I used a sick day a few nights ago. I felt it was more important to attend an awards ceremony for the local Girl Scouts. Missing a day (or night) of work is a small thing compared to disappointing two little girls. They might not see me, I usually occupy a back corner to avoid adult interaction, but they always know when I am there.
The thing that struck me on this particular night was the lack of girls. I have attended this ceremony for the last several years and there had always been a great showing. Some of the troops have close to 50 girls, some even top 70, some are smaller (10), but combined there are 150 girls, with parents the room should be tight, at least 300 people, I would guess. This night did not even get near those numbers. There were rows of chairs empty. The Scout leader cut right to the heart of it. "Please leave a couple of extra seats for girls that might be coming. It is raining and hopefully the games will be postponed. Thank you."
As always, I started thinking. If they handed out trophies for the number one team tonight the room would be overflowing. Instead they were handing out acknowledgements for visiting lonely senior citizens during the holidays. They were passing out badges for gathering cans for the food pantry. They were applauding each other for helping each other gain confidence as they conquered a 40 foot wall during rock climbing. They were celebrating the passing of a friend, a scout, a person with more than 50 years of touching the lives of young women. There were other awards, other acknowledgements, for years served, for projects completed, for other lives touched, like the home schooled Girl Scout in Missouri that the troop adopted. She simply asked to share experiences because time with doctors and at the hospital with her sick brother did not allow for a lot of social activities.
I realize that trophies for coming in first are memorable. I sadly concede that a ball game played in the darkening drizzle of a Monday night is more pressing than nurturing community, charity, caring, and helping others, and recognizing the sacrifices, however small, that are made by a group of school girls. It was a dark, damp night. But it is also a dark, cold time we live in. Maybe I am a bit more pessimistic than most, but this was a sad statement of what is more important to most people and the priorities we teach our children. Our role models are million dollar prima donnas that are burnt out and used up by 40 getting paid to play kid games, serious kid games that callously leave most behind, broken. Our role models are not strong women that bucked the system and taught the world that they were just as capable in the outdoors as men and could give back to their community at the same time. Perhaps I missed something but I doubt it. And I used a sick day to make sure I didn't miss a thing.