Tonight is my daughter’s last night at brownies. She should have left at Easter but she loves it so much her brownie teacher kindly let her stay on till the end of the summer term. But after the summer there is no Brownies for her.
Childhood goes by so quickly and sometimes if you don’t take the time to treasure as much as possible the moment is gone never to return. A friend of mine is on maternity leave just now and put on Facebook how she had been out for a coffee with her baby and then returned to watch the last off the Andrew Murray match at Queens yesterday. It triggered a memory in me. I remember when my daughter was a baby watching the Wimbledon final which was held on a Monday due to rain as my baby slept in my arms. Equally as I took a dog out for a walk at tea time last night I kept meeting a lady walking her baby in the pram. Another memory triggered of walks with both my children in their prams for miles.
My daughter is no longer a baby but a ten-year old girl about to leave Brownies. And I am sad though happy that she has had such a great experience of both rainbows and brownies.
I am glad that she has such a great time being a rainbow and a brownie for many reasons but two stand out for me as I reflect on this.
Firstly my mum was a brownie and a guide and then a brown owl. It was obvious when she spoke of her time with the Brownies how much she loved it. I know she wanted both my sister and I to enjoy it as much as she had. There wasn’t Brownies at our church but there was Girls Brigade. I liked the Rosebuds (equivalent of rainbows) well enough but lasted I think two weeks in the Junior section the equivalent of Brownies. Why? Well the first task was to go round the streets of Cambuslang and ring door bells and ask for rubbish for the jumble sale. It finished me off I found it scary, mortifying and that was the last of Girls Brigade for me. And to this day I could not be a sales person and call on people or phone them up. Lasting mortification stayed with me. My sister lasted slightly longer but then she too gave up. I always felt that we had let mum down a bit so was delighted when first my niece and then my daughter became Brownies and saw mum delight in their stories.
The second reason is that Rainbows and Brownies changed our lives. Sounds dramatic doesn’t it? But they did. Why? Because we went as a family from basically being St Boswells commuters to being part of the St Boswells community.
In my daughter’s early childhood I worked at the local tourist board then VisitScotland and worked long hours. I was rarely in the village except for weekends and at night. I was still at the mistaken belief at this point that I could have it all. Career and being a mum and do all of it with ease. My daughter was in nursery in Melrose and when it came to her going up to school we had the decision to make of which school we sent her too. Melrose where all her friends were or St Boswells? We decided on St Boswells as we wanted her to be part of the village school and be able to walk from school. But what we did not consider in these decisions was the fact that as a commuter family my daughter did not know a single child in the village. Not one. We didn’t get a lot of notice on the school visits in June and as my job basically was attending meeting after meeting. I couldn’t take her a task my parents very kindly took on. My daughter like her parents is very stoic when taking on a challenge but she was petrified as she had to go for a couple of weeks into a school where she knew no one and everyone else knew each other. It was the same on the first day of school and as we left her on her own that day. I came home and wept my eyes out as I realised the challenge that we had set our daughter. There is a picture of my daughter and I taken that day at Harestanes where we went a walk post school and you can see me hugging her to me wanting never to let go. But you have to let go and equally I have always viewed life as a learning journey. I should have realised earlier that it would be a tough start to school for my daughter but you can’t do anything about the past but you can about the present and the future.
So when on the first week my daughter came home with a slip to join Rainbows. I seized the moment as I knew it would help her make friends. I made the call and signed her up. My daughter has made friends lots of friends at St Boswells school and she is very happy there. She also has loved being part of rainbows and brownies and is now a sixer. And when it came to my son I did not make the same mistakes. From the age of three he attended St Boswells nursery and graduated there before going on to school. He was sad to leave his nursery in Melrose but equally sad to leave his nursery in St Boswells but was thrilled he was going to school with all his St Boswells friends.
Now you might be asking how did Rainbows and Brownies change our lives? Well my daughter made friends and settled into school. I made friends and it was part of the process that changed me from commuter into someone who sees St Boswells and it’s community as central to my life. I have made great friends two of whom were the Rainbow leaders at the time and one of whom took time to get to know me and encourage me to get involved with village life. It also came at a time that I realised that I knew something had to give in my life so I could focus more on the children. I resigned from my job a year after my daughter went to school and by that time was able to get more involved in life in St Boswells as has the whole family.
My daughter, son and husband ran in the village race on Sunday a mile round the village. I was so excited when my daughter who suffers from asthma came running practically in the first pack of runners that I burst into tears. Equally I was proud that my son came third in his category and that my husband ran a respectable time given he decided to enter five minutes before the race started. But I was also very humbled by the shouts from others urging my family on as I also shouted for others. Part of village life which started with my daughter starting Rainbows.
Tonight I should be at a Borders Chamber of Commerce Board meeting which I chair. But when I saw the date and realised it’s significance I thought no. You know what I have a 100% record of attendance at Chamber board meetings. They happen every month. Last night of Brownies only happens once in a lifetime and I want to be there for it to take her there and pick her up. Happily the Chamber changed the date so I get to the chamber meeting tomorrow night to eat fish and chips at Eyemouth and discuss business in the Borders. But I would have missed it because I have learnt that you need to treasure the moments with your kids or the moments pass and you have missed them forever. As they say no one lies on their death-bed unless they are very strange and wishes they had done more work but they might wish they had made time for other things. It’s about treasuring the moments that count and last night at Brownies counts for the Drane family.
So I want to say a big thanks to Julia Cunningham who was the Rainbow leader who be friended this shy soul and helped her integrate into village life. To Elizabeth who Ruth always clicked with at Rainbows and still does today. To Judith who took on the role of Rainbow leader. And to Carol and Lynne who have made my daughter’s time at Brownies such as special one. Thanks to you all.