The moment our son Henry joined the Scouts, Bernadette wanted to join too. A year younger and twice as willful, our daughter has spent her short years on this planet applying her will to anything put in front of her. She’s sweet and funny and smart, but Lord help you if you try to resist whatever plan she woke up with in her head that morning. So, a few days after Henry joined Scouts, Bernie became a Girl Guide, and quickly undertook what can only be described as a bloodless coup over her Unit. Within weeks she was coming home and issuing orders to me about the things they would be doing and what she would need.
The first camping trip was, in Bernie’s mind, a disaster. She found the evening intolerably boring; she wanted to go hiking in the woods and no one would let her because they were worried about losing Guides along the way. For Bernie, of course, losing some of her fellow Guides went under the category of Acceptable Losses, and so she came home and began furiously working on a solution. When I was handed a curt order to purchase ten small pink backpacks from the Clear Bag store, I knew Bernie had cooked up a plan.
It was a simple solution. The next time her Unit went camping, all the Guides were equipped with their clear backpacks and a portable battery-operated lantern, which was turned on and placed in their new packs. The Pink Backpack brigade was then able to brave the dark wilderness around them without having any trouble seeing the girl in front of them, or locating each other at a distance. The girls had an exciting evening of being up way past their bedtime and adventuring in the woods. Bernie came home and slept for three days straight, a collection of crickets in a cigar box under her bed, and I got a call from her Unit Leader congratulating me on having such a determined, energetic girl. I wasn’t sure if that was meant as praise or sympathy, but I thanked her anyway.
And the bags are great for these outdoors activities, too, as they’re sturdy and a cinch to clean. When I dumped Bernie’s out after her hike, it was basically a bag full of twigs, dirt, and candy wrappers. But one session with the hose and it was good as new.
Since then, Bernie’s idea has spread to Trick-or-Treating as well, and now in our neighborhood you can look out and see strings of lit-up backpacks snaking around the houses. Parents even use different types of bulbs or colors or decals on the clear bags to identify their own kids out of the crowd. Bernie doesn’t always get credit for the idea, but she’s not shy about claiming it when the subject comes up.