When we moved to the sticks, Pinkie was old enough to join the Brownies, a club she’d been busting to join for ages. I met with Brown Owl to discuss Pinkie’s C.F and the responsibility that brings. I knew I’d go on the pack holiday as Pinkie can’t self medicate yet, and I don’t want anyone else to it, both because it’s a big responsibility and that if I do it, I know it’s done properly.
“We’ll get you CRB checked now, so that when the time comes we’re ready,” said Brown Owl.
Brown Owl is only young and had started the Brownies in the village so that her youngest sister could attend. Luckily for us our Brown Owl is an extremely bright Owl and passed her A-levels with flying colours and got offered an unconditional place at a fantastic Uni.
“So I’ll be off in May because I’m going to go travelling before I take my place,” she said. “We need another adult or Brownies will have to close. Oh look you’re police checked…”
So, there I was, no sign of the Fuzzy Felts I felt confident enough to run one night a week, instead I was supervising excited Brownies make their own fried breakfast on camp stoves.
“Tie your hair back for the love of God child”.
“Reluctant Owl, I’ve cooked this for you.”
Now, I was no more likely to eat the offering than I was to lick a tramps shoe, and don’t be thinking it was a kind and thoughtful gift, it was not. It was a greasy blackened breakfast that the child had enjoyed cooking and had never had any intention of eating.
“Ok, thank you sweetie, now you get yourself some cereal.”
Big mistake, suddenly many voices we calling for me,
“Reluctant Owl, you can have mine too.”
“Now, girls its very wasteful to cook food that you know you’re not going to eat, so please try some of it.”
“But XX didn’t.”
They had a point and I had been caught out in my naivety — the next day I would be firmer from the off.
A Brownie Pack Holiday is like a children's party, for FOUR days and three nights. We were exhausted and on the brink of insanity, fortunately I had my friend and room mate to laugh with, lets call her Wild Owl, not because she’s a lunatic but because there were times when I’d look into her eyes and she would look wild and vacant.
“Reluctant Owl I think I’ve got a splinter.”
“No, that’s dirt, wash your hands.”
“Reluctant Owl I’ve got a tummy ache.”
“Have you had a poo?”
“Reluctant Owl I had hic cups, they’ve gone now but its sore.”
“It’ll wear off.”
“Reluctant Owl Flossie has her foot stuck and is hanging upside down on the climbing frame.”
I didn’t answer just ran to rescue the dangling child.
This was the nature of every waking moment. Wild Owl and I nearly weed with laughter when we looked at the items she had packed. Wild Owl had brought her hair straighteners and ‘everyday self tan’, we considered ourselves lucky if we had time to brush our own teeth before a small girl’s voice was calling for one or other of us.
“And I bought these,” Wild Owl managed before we convulsed again, holding up a range of pretty silk scarves, “one for each day,” she squeaked.
I briefly mentioned that I was the First Aider on pack hols, that again was indirectly because of Pinkie’s C.F. I have become a neurotic quack over the years since Blue was born and had often toyed with the notion of going on a first aid course, then would promptly forget I wanted to go on a first aid course or would find out it was cheaper to have a weekend away than attend said first aid course. So, when the free opportunity arose via the Brownies, I said yes. I spent an enjoyable Saturday listening to a jolly lady explain how and what to do in an emergency. I have to say I have had more soul warming experiences than practicing CPR on a paediatric dummy, however, I figured it was better to know and hope to God I never need to know, than to know nothing.
At the end of the day, several cups of tea, slices of cake and more than a few biccies, I was presented with a certificate (current location unknown), and a new phobia of toasted/melting marshmallows that get stuck in throats like putty, never to be removed or have air pass around them, (much like those marshmallows you’re picturing around a camp fire). It wasn’t until the Girl Guides District Commissioner said, “You can now officially be the first aider,” that I realised there’s a Ying to every Yang.
Curses. I should have known there was a catch. I felt the weight of the responsibility land on me like a lead jacket. I let a few moments pass to see if she was going to laugh and say,
“Only joking, I wouldn’t leave you in charge of my door keys.”
But, alas she didn’t.
“I’ll have to buy a new kit then,” I said feeling that was surely going to get me spared.
“Perfect, we need a new one, here’s the list and there’s enough money in the kitty for you to buy everything.”
The list was long, very, very long. I decided the best kit bag would be a green hardshell suitcase with a first aid sticker on the front. I set about purchasing, and found that I was truly enjoying it (my fav shop is a massive Boots, little boxes of magic and potions), and after a few hundred deliveries our new kit was complete.
During the course of the holiday I was banking on ‘Sods Law’ coming away with us — if I had everything, I wouldn’t need it. Apart from a bit of sting cream, and a few plasters my theory played out, and my immaculate kit remained untouched.
So, why am I telling you all this? The truth is that if Pinkie didn’t have C.F, and a complex daily medical regime, I wouldn’t have gone on any of the trips I have, and I do think I’d be the worse off for it. As it is, I know all of Pinkie’s friends well enough to know the little things about them that makes each and every one of them the child they are, plus I have a whole head full of funny memories to power me through the darker days when Pinkie isn’t so chipper.