Last night, some of our girls left Rainbows to jump over to Brownies. Some of my favourites, the kids that I’ve had the longest to get to know, left. I always knew that one particular goodbye would be hard. There was one little girl who when she first started two years ago, cried for a long time that first meeting. I took her hand, got her involved, and made sure she had lots of fun. Since then, she’s grown up a lot, and is so so much more confident, and although she still has the odd meeting where the idea of games makes her feel ill, or she doesn’t have anything to say, the majority of the time she’s bouncy and happy, just like everyone else.
Tonight, I knew something was off. Before we’d even made it into the hall to jump our eldest girls up to Brownies, she was holding my hand. As the leaders in charge went down the list of names, and she knew that her name was getting closer and closer, she squeezed my hand tighter and tighter and moved nearer and nearer to me. When her name was called, I knew she wouldn’t let go, so I took a step forward with her. The idea that I’d then hand her over to two people she’d never met before so they could ‘jump’ her over the circle clearly terrified her, and she burst into tears. In the end, I walked her across to her new sixer, and spend the next ten minutes kneeling next to her whispering words of encouragement and rubbing her back, reminding her to breathe, and wiping away her tears. At the same time I knew this meant she’d clearly loved being a Rainbow, it was heartbreaking to watch a little girl cry so much, and I found that soon, I was fighting back my own tears.
Of course, I did eventually have to say goodbye, and an hour later when I saw her at the end, she had a big smile on her face. She was so proud of herself, and I was proud of her, too. It’s funny, because I’m sure that I was probably very similar at that age, and look at me now; I’m a confident leader, off to University, and ready to face the world.
That’s what Guiding is about. Guiding brings out the best in both leaders and girls, and I hope that we can continue to do so for a very very long time.
Living. Laughing. Loving.