Help Needed: Add to This Funny (but Sad) Poster

Readers — Donald Christensen, a longtime Free-Range supporter, deep thinker about encouragement, and author of the blog, came up with a great idea: Let’s make a then-vs.-now poster with all the modern-day things we say to kids to keep them “safe”… that really just depress, demoralize or defeat them. Woo hoo!

Add on to this list!

Add on to this list!

Now, I realize this poster can be hard to read on a screen, so here’s what’s on it so far:


1980:                                                                            2014

If you get lost, ask a stranger for help           Be suspicious of everyone

You can ride your bike to school                   Don’t trust strangers

Let’s play dodge ball                                      No bomb dives

Come inside when the street lights                No running

come on

You CAN do it                                                 You CAN’T do it


The rest of the poster asks for your suggestions! So…suggest! – L.


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104 Responses to Help Needed: Add to This Funny (but Sad) Poster

  1. Taradlion January 10, 2014 at 8:45 am #

    How about:

    Can you babysit?
    Meet your babysitter

    Here’s a pocket knife
    You’re suspended for carrying a weapon

    Go to the library
    No children allowed without supervision

  2. Donna January 10, 2014 at 8:55 am #

    Wait here while I run in vs Come stand beside me while I pump gas

    Neighborhood trick-or-treat vs. Mall trick-or-treat

    Sell this ______ door-to-door in your neighborhood to raise money for school/sports team/scouts vs. Door-to-door sales are prohibited by the school/league/troop

  3. Crystal January 10, 2014 at 8:56 am #

    Then: sure, you can get a job like mowing lawns to earn money! Now: no way, no how. I’ll give you your spending money.

  4. Cyn January 10, 2014 at 9:00 am #

    Yes you can go to the store by yourself. Try it and see what happens. Ok, go out without a coat. Sure you can make that invented recipe, but you do have to eat the results.

  5. suzi January 10, 2014 at 9:13 am #

    give your friend a hug goodbye vs don’t sexually harass your friend

  6. suzi January 10, 2014 at 9:16 am #

    You can climb the tree as high as you want vs the lower limbs are cut off to prevent climbing for your own good

  7. Mary Akerstrom January 10, 2014 at 9:38 am #

    1980: When you get home from school do your chores, walk the dog, and I’ll see you at 5:00.
    Today: You have to stay at the Boys & Girls club. I’m sorry the other kids are mean, but that’s the way it is. I have to work.

  8. Anne January 10, 2014 at 9:47 am #

    THEN: No, I’m not driving you to school. It’s not that far, you can walk.
    NOW: School is five blocks away, of course you can’t walk there without me!
    ugh. 🙁

  9. Gina January 10, 2014 at 9:53 am #

    I’ve already been through____grade. Your homework is YOUR responsibility
    Let me help with that so you don’t make any mistakes…

  10. Paula January 10, 2014 at 10:19 am #

    1980: you need to listen to and respect your teachers. You got the grade you earned.
    2014: why did the teacher give you this grade? I’m calling her right now don’t worry. I’ll make her change it.

  11. Jim Ashmore January 10, 2014 at 10:25 am #

    1980: Skinned knee. It’ll stop bleeding in a minute, get back outside and play.

    2014: ER visit.

    1980: Bring squirt gun to school in the spring when it got hot = great fun.

    2014: Felony.

  12. Stacey January 10, 2014 at 10:25 am #

    After finding your website I made a compilation some time back-Anyone from Yonkers, NY may find this familiar:
    List of things we did at elementary school age(2nd-3rd grade) without supervision:

    After 1st day of kindergarten-we all walked to school.
    We were taught how to cross a street and expected to do so on our own
    Play outside unsupervised
    Dig in the dirt, climb trees, rocks etc. This included construction sites-i.e. when Central Avenue was widened.
    Rode our bikes-no helmets back then
    Play (tag/baseball/fungo/stoop ball or just have a catch) and other games we made up. NO adults present
    Leave school and go home for lunch!
    Return on time
    Leave school and go OUT for lunch (to local pizza place/deli/candy store)
    We were fully capable of sitting ourselves down in a restaurant, ordering a meal, and even knew how to leave a tip. Most of the time we were afraid of the high school kids in there smoking, so we just got our pizza to go!
    Return back to school, on time, from lunch
    Walk home
    Sometimes we rode our bikes and locked them up to the fence next to the school parking lot.
    We walked ourselves to the library and took out our own books
    We were responsible for returning them on time
    We walked to baseball/softball practice alone even though we had to cross a very busy intersection. It had a traffic light and a cross walk. Our parents showed up for games. Not practice.
    For 3 years, starting at age 7, I walked to karate class that was several blocks away. I was never late, I never missed one.
    Our parents could drop us off at the movie theater and pick us up when the movie was over. We knew how to behave. They told us what time to be outside waiting. It didn’t’ require 3 phone calls and 10 text messages to coordinate picking us up.
    I used to go around the corner to the laundry room to buy my mom’s cigarettes from the vending machine. I never started smoking.
    By age 10 we got on the bus and took ourselves to the movies. After looking in the newspapers ourselves or calling the theater and deciding which show/what time we wanted to go.
    At age 7 I was expected to take care of my infant brother-change his diaper in the am when we got up, feed him, etc… full nighttime babysitting duties started at about age 9
    We all had keys to our apartments and if we came home before mom or dad was home and we were expected to start our homework.
    In the winter we went sledding. We walked ourselves to the park/hill and did it ourselves. It was cold. We put on coats and boots. We didn’t die. Even the times we fell in the icy cold river. We walked home and changed our clothes.

    Sometimes we would walk to the Bronx river and fish or feed the ducks.
    We used to take the bus to Nathan’s on Central Ave and play at the arcade.

    Sometimes miniature golf.

    I think what annoys me most when I see parents in public with their kids is the constant “barrage” of commands they issue as they kid moves. It’s like they protect them with a cone of verbiage. The kid doesn’t get a minute to think. They usually walk in to walls on their own because mom isn’t there directing every step.

  13. Andrew January 10, 2014 at 10:27 am #

    Go out and play *vs* Let’s set up a playdate

  14. CrazyCatLady January 10, 2014 at 10:52 am #

    1980: You want to go for a walk in the farmer’s fields and woods? You want to see the beavers, deer, birds and maybe dig in the 1900 era trash dump for old bottles? Have a good time, see you in a few hours.
    Now: You can’t go over there – the police busted a marijuana grow there last summer and now the owner has 10 feet tall “No Trespassing Signs.” Besides, you might have a tick bite you and you would get Lyme’s Disease.

  15. Havva January 10, 2014 at 10:56 am #

    Then: Go to the park and find someone to play with.

    Now: Your friend’s mom had to cancel the play date, sorry.

    Then: Hey kids, Sarah is back out again. Go see if she wants to play.

    Now: I can’t believe the neighbor girl is out alone, again! I’m calling the cops.

  16. Dan Wood January 10, 2014 at 10:57 am #

    Old: You can bike/walk to school.
    New: I must drive you to school – too much traffic, too dangerous!

    Old: Go play outside.
    New: Why bother playing outside? No other kids playing outside, probably because it’s too dangerous!

    Old: Good morning/afternoon!
    New: Don’t even make eye contact wit that man; he might be a pedophile!

  17. Jacquie January 10, 2014 at 11:24 am #

    Afterschool time:

    1980: snack & time outside


    2014: snack in the car on the way to a sports practice or organized activity

  18. BL January 10, 2014 at 11:39 am #

    I remember when we moved to another state. The moving van was being unloaded and one of the first items out was my bicycle.

    I cycled off and started exploring my new hometown. I found the library and returned home with a library card application (my parents had to sign), cycled back to the library and came back with some books to read.

    I also found the school I’d attend, the local county fairgrounds, a public swimming pool, and some other places.

    I was eight years old.

  19. lollipoplover January 10, 2014 at 11:42 am #

    THEN- School lunch was either a brown bag that you packed with a piece of fruit and a PBJ sandwich or you brought in 75 cents to buy a hot meal prepared by lunch ladies in hair nets.

    NOW- Lunch packed by parent in thermo-anti-bacterial-nuclear lunch bag filled with reusable, BPA-free, organic produce cut in small shapes to resemble all 50 states to be examined by lunch police. Must be free of tree nuts and peanuts because they’re considered weapons. Buying lunch requires parent to prepay to online account with credit card as children cannot be trusted with real money. Ketchup and pizza are vegetables and lunch is prepared off-site and trucked in to be reheated to taste like cardboard.

  20. Rebecca January 10, 2014 at 11:59 am #

    @lollipoplover: LOL!!
    All the rest great, too.

  21. Emily January 10, 2014 at 12:09 pm #

    >>Then: Hey kids, Sarah is back out again. Go see if she wants to play.

    Now: I can’t believe the neighbor girl is out alone, again! I’m calling the cops.<<

    @Havva–This is my favourite so far. If people are so afraid of kids playing outside alone, why don't they send their kids outside to play with said kid? That way, nobody would be "alone," and the kids might become friends.

  22. Emily January 10, 2014 at 12:16 pm #

    Oh, I have another one:

    1984-1989 (since I wasn’t born yet in 1980):

    Here, take this cardboard box and make it into a fort/castle/spaceship/puppet theatre/whatever.


    Come to Toys R Us, and buy your child a cardboard castle, with pre-printed designs on the sides, and a pack of markers included to colour them in!!! No imagination required, and it’s all yours at the low, low price of $39.95!!!

  23. Emily January 10, 2014 at 12:30 pm #

    Oh, another thing–Our YMCA has this poster on the wall beside the swimming pool:'-reach.aspx

    Now, it’s all well and good to keep really small children, or non-swimmers, within arm’s reach, but the poster doesn’t clarify that. Besides, as we discussed this past summer, it’s impossible for a child to learn to swim while “within arm’s reach” of a parent, and non-swimmers BECOME swimmers, by practicing swimming. So, the upshot of this poster (which, by the way, is massive), is that some people ignore it, some people use common sense, but others interpret it in the most bubble-wrappish way possible. One day, I was swimming lengths in the pool, and in the lane next to me, a mother came in with her two sons, aged maybe six and eight. They started jumping off the diving board, and the younger one was wearing a life jacket. She wouldn’t let the younger boy jump off the diving board unless she was rightinfrontofit. This pattern repeated several times, and the lifeguards ignored it.

    On my way out of the YMCA that day, I mentioned this at the front desk, citing safety concerns. The guy I spoke to, who I normally like, said that this was a “parenting issue.” I’m not one to tell others how to parent; I was just afraid that the little boy was going to accidentally jump on his mother’s head. I’ve also offered, on numerous occasions, to make the YMCA a different poster for the pool, about the value of protecting kids by teaching them to swim (which would encourage people to enroll their kids in swimming lessons), but I’ve been ignored.

  24. Rachel January 10, 2014 at 12:31 pm #

    @Emily Those were good times! My brother and I turned a cardboard box into a fort for our new kitten to hide from the adult cat. Including a ramp inside to reach the balcony. We had to cut the doorways larger and reinforcing the balcony/ramp as the kitten grew bigger and heavier.

  25. Emily January 10, 2014 at 12:44 pm #

    Oh, here’s another one:


    Happy Birthday!!! Here’s the plan for your party: The guests will arrive around three, and then we’ll make party hats, and play this donkey game that I made out of poster board, and then it’ll be musical chairs, followed by a scavenger hunt outside while I set up the food. We’re having hot dogs, potato chips, ice cream, Hawaiian Punch to drink, and of course, I made a cake. After that, it’s free play. Sound fun?


    “Hello, Pre-Fab Party Place? I’d like to order Party Package B for little Mikayla’s birthday, three months from now, as I know you book up fast. I’d also like to request no peanuts, no red food dye, no gluten, no dairy, no eggs, and no sugar, because I’m inviting the WHOLE class so as not to hurt anyone’s feelings, and several of the kids have food restrictions. What’s that? Parents have to sign their kids in and out of the party, for safety reasons, and a staff member will be escorting kids to the bathroom? Of course. I’ll let them know. Thank you.”


    “Have fun at summer camp, sweetie!!!”


    “Do you REALLY want to go to summer camp? ALONE?!?!?! Well, okay, but you can text me any time if you want to come home; never mind those silly rules against cell phones. I’ll be watching the live video footage on the camp website every day, and of COURSE I’ll call the camp in fit of rage if I don’t see enough of you, or if I see you NOT SMILING, perish the thought.”

  26. EricS January 10, 2014 at 1:06 pm #

    The teacher made you stand in the corner? See, that’s what you get for not listening. Hope you learned your leason.


    The teacher made you stand in the corner? I’m going to sue the school for abusing you.

    You want to help me cook? Sure. Here, cut these into small pieces. This is how you use a knife.


    Honey, don’t touch that, it’s too dangerous. Don’t touch that either, or that. You know what, just watch mommy.

    Mom, can I stay over Pete’s house? Sure, as long as it’s ok with Pete’s parents.


    Mom, can I stay over Pete’s house? Hold on. I’ll need to do a background check on his parents. And I want to meet them and see that their house is safe for you.

    9 year olds in a store, buying milk and bread for mom, and cigarettes for dad. Store owner says: “That’ll be $8 young man”.


    9 year olds in a store, buying milk and bread for mom, and cigarettes for dad (of course now you can’t buy cigarettes unless your 18). Store owner says: “Where are your parents? You shouldn’t be out all by yourselves. Wait right here while I call the police to take you home.”

  27. Emily January 10, 2014 at 1:45 pm #

    Then: Recess.

    Now: Ritalin.

    Also, as a variation on the birthday party theme, now the whole racket has been moved back home, but it’s become a Pinterest-picture-perfect affair, fuelled by sanctimommies. After all, if you outsource your kid’s party, or if the pennant flag over the snack table doesn’t match the tablecloth AND the frosting on the cupcakes, then you’re a Bad Parent Who’s Not Trying Hard Enough, And Why Even Have Children?

    Now here’s one with a few different phases:

    1980’s-1990’s: Parenting issues were resolved at home, in private, sometimes with the help of a parenting book, or in extreme cases, a child psychologist.

    2000’s: Problems with bad child behaviour are solved with reality television shows like Supernanny, Nanny 911, and the like……if they can compete for air time with Party Mamas and My Super Sweet 16, which actively ENCOURAGED bad behaviour, in people of all ages.

    2010’s: Problems with overbearing PARENTS are solved by Lenore on Bubble Wrap Kids, until she gets taken off the air after one season, probably because the overbearing parents who most needed to see that show, weren’t ready to hear its message.

  28. Michelle January 10, 2014 at 2:01 pm #

    No, you have to earn the trophy not everyone gets one


    A trophy for you, A trophy for you, A trophy for you, A trophy for you, etc, We know you didn’t win, but you showed up, that is enough

  29. gap.runner January 10, 2014 at 2:10 pm #

    Back in the ’60s and ’70s (when I was growing up): Go wash your hands with soap and water.

    2014: Soap and water isn’t good enough. You need to use super hand sanitizer that kills 99.9% of all bacteria and viruses to clean your hands. Don’t forget to pack a tube of it to bring to school and use it anytime someone touches one of your things because you never know what sorts of germs the other kids are harboring. Dry skin and rashes on your hands are a small price to pay to ensure that you stay germ-free.

    ’60s and ’70s: Yes you can take a drink from the water fountain or garden hose.

    2014: Don’t drink from the water fountain or garden hose because they are full of germs. You never know who has been using a public drinking fountain or where the garden hose has been. Only drink water that is in disposable plastic bottles.

    ’60s and ’70s: Put the kid in the shopping cart and let him touch the handle or even chew on it.

    2014: Wipe down the whole shopping cart with anti-bacterial wipes before putting your kid in it.

    ’60s and ’70s: Let a baby or toddler crawl or learn to walk without any protective equipment and let them take their lumps.

    2014: Baby knees pads for crawlers and helmets for kids learning to walk.

    ’60s and ’70s: Letting kids bring any sorts of treats for in-class parties, whether homemade or store-bought.

    2014: All things for class parties need to be thoroughly pre-screened to ensure that they are healthy, organic, and non-allergenic.

  30. Dean Tow January 10, 2014 at 2:32 pm #

    1980: Kids, have fun at the playground!

    2014: Kids, don’t forget to wear your rubberized padded full bodysuit and crash-helmet with the mounted web camera and distress alarm, when you go to the playground!

  31. Havva January 10, 2014 at 2:36 pm #

    @lollipoplover: I’m pretty sure school lunches have always tasted like cardboard. At least they did by the 90’s.

  32. kate January 10, 2014 at 3:26 pm #

    Santa was a nice tradition for the littlest kids. Those who figured out it was a myth played along so as not to ruin it for the younger ones. Now, we debate about the long term psychological harm such a “lie” will do to the psyche of our fragile children.

  33. Emily January 10, 2014 at 3:35 pm #

    @Dean Tow–Rubberized body suits? I’ve never seen one. Nowadays, kids don’t really go to the playground unsupervised, and that means that some kids barely even get to go at all, because their parents are too busy to take them. Of course, most of the equipment has been made so safe that it’s boring for anyone above kindergarten age or so.

  34. Emily January 10, 2014 at 3:49 pm #

    THEN: “You can work at the ice cream parlour down the street this summer to pay for your university tuition.”

    NOW: “I started a savings account when you were conceived, and IF you start working at fourteen, while also volunteering at the animal shelter, playing the violin and the piano, doing gymnastics at the elite level, and speaking three languages fluently, then I think we can JUST swing it, as long as you’re also student council president. Oh, and make sure to apply to at least six safety schools, and don’t forget your background check!”

  35. eileen January 10, 2014 at 5:35 pm #

    Then: food at school- cooking together, trading lunches and sharing snacks. Now: No food eaten that is not your own because of food allergies and liability:(

  36. Emily January 10, 2014 at 6:05 pm #

    >>Then: food at school- cooking together, trading lunches and sharing snacks. Now: No food eaten that is not your own because of food allergies and liability:(<<

    @Eileen–How would one go about teaching home economics in a school like that? Part of home ec is cooking, and for good reason–you don't want kids going off to university only knowing how to cook ramen noodles and PBJ's. You also don't want kids growing up and feeding their kids exclusively on that kind of diet.

  37. LTMG January 10, 2014 at 7:01 pm #

    1980 – Self-reliance

    2014 – Dependence on government

    1980 – Accountable for one’s own behavior

    2014 – Blame others for one’s own bad behavior

    1980 – Discuss like adults

    2014 – Sue

  38. Taradlion January 10, 2014 at 7:49 pm #

    Sign my cast!

    Investigate parents for neglect or petition to have monkey bars removed

  39. Jack January 10, 2014 at 7:57 pm #

    Child brings and reads Dianetics in school. Nobody bats an eye.

    Child brings and reads Dianetics in school. Administration says Book too controversial Student suspended for 2 days.

  40. lollipoplover January 10, 2014 at 8:04 pm #

    THEN- Cold weather meant dressing in layers, snow boots, warming by fires, and hot chocolate breaks. If the bus was late, you went into the neighbor’s house closest to the stop until the bus eventually showed up.

    NOW- Polar vortex closes schools. Children wait for bus in heated cars because exposure to cold air could turn them into popcicles. Late buses make the evening news.

  41. David January 10, 2014 at 8:27 pm #

    School lunch menu

    Fried Chicken
    Lots of meat and fries
    Regular chips

    Mini hamburgers and really thin chicken sandwiches with 100 whole grain whole wheat buns 100 percent whole grain breads only 2 ounce protein per day too much fruits and vegetables, only healthy snacks and baked chips. Milk can only be 1 percent fat or fat free and flavored milk can only be fat free.

  42. Lisa Holbrook January 10, 2014 at 8:38 pm #

    Love is…a hug
    You’re suspended for PDA

  43. Lisa Holbrook January 10, 2014 at 8:39 pm #

    Oops! Accidents happen


    Whose fault is it? Lawsuit!

  44. Reziac January 10, 2014 at 8:41 pm #

    I think this is the salient point, and says it all:

    You CAN do it

    2014: You CAN’T do it

  45. Kimberly Jones January 10, 2014 at 9:04 pm #

    then = rub it out, now = let’s get an ice pack
    then = do your homework, it’s your responsibility, now = this is too hard, I’ll talk to your teacher

  46. fighting for my children January 10, 2014 at 11:13 pm #

    Then: Go outside and play
    Now: Who are you meeting, where are you going? No, you cant go to the park alone.
    Then: Go ahead and tube down the river.
    Now: I’ll walk down the path and watch you in case you drown in water up to your waist even though you know how to swim
    Then: Go walk your dog. He is your responsibility
    Now: Lets go walk the family dog (because you cant possibly be responsible for a living creature on your own)
    Then: Go walk up to the mall. Its only a 20 minute walk.
    Now: Third degree. Let me drive you that is too far and there are strangers.
    Then: Can I go outside and play in the rain mom? sure
    Now: Can I go outside and play in the rain mom?
    No, you with catch a cold and your clothes will get wet and dirty. (thats kinda the point!)
    Then: Can I go spend the night at Cathy’s?
    yes, I remember meeting her mom at school when u were little, they seemed nice.
    Now: Can I go spend the night at Cathy’s?
    After we meet them and get a criminal record check and visit their house then maybe.
    Then: Got caught stealing candy. Parents take you back to the store and make YOU apologize and pay for it with your birthday money.
    Now: Got caught stealing candy. Your mom goes back to the store and apologizes for you and pays for the candy. You get grounded for a month.
    Then: you get back home before your parents and they dont call but maybe ask you what u have been up to when they get home but thats it.
    Now: They phone you every few mins on the house phone and if you dont answer they phone your cell phone and ask you what you are doing,who you are with etc. every few mins. (arent they supposed to be working, how are they getting any work done)
    Then: you didn’t dress appropriately this morning. Mom throws you a towel when u walk in the door and Tell you to dry off and change. (independance)
    Now: Mom sees you all wet and towel dries your hair and makes you a mug of hot chocolate and finds you some nice dry clothes for you to wear. (I will take care of you, you poor baby). Mom beats herself up mentally and remembers to tell you to wear proper clothes the next day.

  47. Emily January 10, 2014 at 11:59 pm #

    THEN: Chicken pox parties

    NOW: Inject children with experimental vaccines every time they turn around, and make them mandatory for school enrollment.

    (I’m not anti-vaccine, but I only had the ones that were absolutely necessary–MMR, DPT, Hepatitis B, and that’s about it. I turned out perfectly healthy).

    THEN: The Degrassi series featured actors who actually looked like the child and adolescent characters they were portraying–a little gawky, and they lived in relatively modest houses. It wasn’t picture-perfect by any means, but it seemed realistic. A lot of people say that watching that show is like watching home videos from their youth.

    NOW: Degrassi: The Next Generation features actors who are supermodel-perfect, and the show’s been somehow snatched away from CBC, by MuchMusic.

    THEN: Halloween costumes that were homemade, or at least not flimsy little prostitot outfits.

    NOW: Everything’s pre-packaged, and most girls’ costumes don’t even look like what they’re supposed to be, like a short orange go-go dress for a “pumpkin” costume. Yeah, right.

    THEN: Women’s magazines were released about once a month, to make women feel inadequate for a few days, until the new issue loses its lustre.

    NOW: Pinterest provides a steady stream of photo-and-humblebrag-filled blog posts, cooking, and craft ideas, to make women feel inadequate 24/7. Not strictly related to the bubble-wrap-versus-free-range debate, but I think it’s probably a contributing factor.

    THEN: Kool-Aid.

    NOW: If you give your kids anything but bottled water, and fat-free milk (debate’s still out on dairy), then you are a BAD PARENT.

  48. Emily January 11, 2014 at 12:07 am #

    One thing that we still have here, that I’m grateful for–sand on playgrounds. It seems that all the playgrounds in the U.S. have rubber mats embedded into the ground around them; many with fancy mosaic patterns. As far as I’ve noticed, Canada and Australia still use sand. I know that that seems like a small thing, but really, what’s a trip to the playground without pouring sand out of your shoes afterwards?

  49. Emily January 11, 2014 at 12:25 am #

    >>Now: Who are you meeting, where are you going? No, you cant go to the park alone.<<

    Sadly, I had my share of moments like that during my childhood, and I was born in 1984.

    As for the "got caught stealing candy" thing, nowadays, most of the "big chain" convenience stores will call the police on the child who stole a pack of Skittles, just like they would for the grown man who held up the place at gunpoint.

  50. BL January 11, 2014 at 7:14 am #

    1980: Go with some friends to a park or empty field to play sandlot baseball; or to a public court to play pickup basketball; or to a frozen pond for pond hockey.

    2014: All youth sports must be adult-organized, adult-supervised, and adult-coached, with “zero-tolerance” rules for everyone except those at the top of the organizational food chain.

  51. Warren January 11, 2014 at 8:47 am #

    1980……”Who said life was fair?”
    NOW…….”Mom and Dad will get the teacher, coach or whomever to change your grade, spot on the team or whatever.”

  52. Sarah Williams January 11, 2014 at 9:30 am #

    1980 – Deal with boredom of a long car ride by creating games in your head; 2014 – Plug into something electronic so you don’t bug your parents.

  53. Lesly January 11, 2014 at 10:49 am #



  54. Lesly January 11, 2014 at 12:06 pm #

    Teacher does not see one of the students in the bowling alley on a bowling trip she knows the student is either in the bathroom or getting a bowling ball and does not freak out or worry!

    Teacher does not see one of the students in the bowling alley on a bowling trip Teacher freaks out and is about to pull her hair out saying where is the student? But the student was only gone for a couple of seconds getting the bowling ball or going to the bathroom!

  55. Wheeze The People™ January 11, 2014 at 12:44 pm #

    1980: Light firecracker in school bathroom = dumb, mostly harmless, and to some, a funny prank . . .

    2014: Light firecracker in school bathroom = major national terrorist incident; perpetrator’s life ruined before it really even got started . . .

    1980: Hygiene is important; dirt does wash out; make reasonable efforts to avoid germs . . .

    2014: Always cloak yourself in a force field of germ sanitizer; Never let a bad germ enter your body until it does anyway and you have underdeveloped immunities to fight it . . .

    2008: There are things you can be very, very good at but no one can be good at all things. That’s life . . .

    2014: You are or can be great at everything you do!! You are the greatest snowflake G-d ever made . . .

    2008: The world can be a dangerous place; exercise good judgment and reasonable caution when you’re in it . . .

    2014: The world IS a dangerous place. AVOID at all costs . . .

  56. Lesly January 11, 2014 at 2:14 pm #

    Cover your mouth when you cough with your hand

    Cover your mouth when you cough with your elbow if you cover your mouth with your hand you need to use hand sanitize.

  57. Emily January 11, 2014 at 2:36 pm #

    THEN: Kids encouraged to play “King of the Mountain,” to slide down hills on crazy carpets (some brought from home, some lent out by the school), and to make a game of running and sliding on long patches of ice during winter recess.

    NOW: Winter recess is cancelled, because of “safety” and “No Child Left Behind.” Gotta prepare for the next standardized test!!! But don’t worry; we have 20 minutes of DPA (Daily Physical Activity) every day. Jumping jacks are a perfectly good substitute for unstructured outdoor play, right?

    THEN: A kindergarten teacher has her students make PBJ sandwiches and take them on a picnic in the park (walking there and back), as an “ad-hoc” field trip (actually happened, in the fall of 1989, when I was in kindergarten).

    NOW: Permission forms are sent home weeks in advance, parent volunteers are recruited as chaperones (but only if they have criminal record checks done), the students are driven in carpools (driving abstract required), or on a school bus, and there are NO peanut products allowed.

    THEN: “Hey, grade ones, we’re going swimming next week. We have lots of mothers volunteering to go with us, which is great, but we need more dads to help out in the boys’ change room. So, I’d like you to all go home tonight and ask your fathers if they’d be able to help.”

    (I do this, and my dad says yes, and the teacher introduces him to the class the following week, and everything goes without incident).

    NOW: Same business with criminal record checks (including vulnerable sector screening), child protection training classes beforehand, and all kinds of hoops that make parents feel resentful at what it’s costing them (in time and money) to be able to volunteer at their child’s school. That’s IF swimming lessons still happen–do they, or have they been sacrificed on the altar of “safety” and “budget cuts” and “NCLB?”

    THEN: Playground equipment is made of wood, with holes in the pillars to prevent cracking and warping. Slides are made of metal, and sometimes they burn kids’ legs a little bit on hot days. Swings are tall enough for some “whoosh” factor, and the Twirlybird is a lesson in physics where the “prize” is the exhilarating feeling of “flying” for a few seconds, followed by NOT getting your head banged on the pole, if you put your feet down quickly enough. Its cousin, the merry-go-round, requires strength and co-operation to operate, but it can move pretty fast when that happens.

    Some pieces of equipment are built tall enough so as to be a challenge for older kids. It’s accepted that you won’t be able to do everything on your very first visit (which usually takes place in toddlerhood), and that’s okay. However, some kids get around this by putting thick sticks into the holes in the pillars, and stepping on them so that they can reach the monkey bars, or the zipline.

    NOW: Everything is built to toddler-and-preschooler ability level, so kids outgrow that by the time they’re five or six, then abandon the playground in favour of their Nintendo DS’s, iPhones, etc. Obesity crisis? Plummeting self-esteem in kids? Where did that come from?

    THEN: Climbing trees, hanging swings in trees, or VERY basic, flimsy metal backyard swingsets.

    NOW: Build your own elaborate play structure in your own backyard, so your kids get ALL the benefits of the playground, EXCEPT the independence of being able to go alone. You can watch their every move from your lawn chair or kitchen window ten feet away.

  58. Jenny Islander January 11, 2014 at 2:37 pm #

    My daughter decided to do the cookie thing for the first time this year. After one of the troop leaders walked me through the paperwork, the other took over and explained “a few additional rules.”

    It’s okay for her to sell door to door; it’s even permissible for her to take a friend and buddy up; but there must be somebody over 18 “in the vicinity” for “safety reasons.”

    Because I have such abundant spare time with which to follow one of my children around in our family’s only car while the other two are going nuts with boredom in the back.

  59. Lesly January 11, 2014 at 2:37 pm #

    Child is not talking by 16 months you know the child is just a late talker and you let him play and be a kid.

    Child is not talking by 16 months the child is diagnosed with a speech delay and has 40 hours a week of speech therapy and does not have time to play and be a kid!

  60. Lesly January 11, 2014 at 2:49 pm #

    Elementary School was an average of 6 hours a day and few tests and 1 hour of recess and gym everyday and you were allowed to run and there were playgrounds at recess!

    Elementary School is almost 7 hours a day and tests start at 1st grade! and state tests starting at 3rd grade! Only 15 minutes of recess a day some schools omitted recess altogether! Gym is once a week and recess is in the school courtyard and no balls and running allowed!

  61. Emily January 11, 2014 at 2:49 pm #

    Oh, how could I forget?

    THEN: Welcome to Brownies. Today, we’re having a campfire. Everybody, find a long, thin stick that’s as clean as possible, and go line up at the picnic table, where Brown Owl will give you a marshmallow. What’s that, Sarah? You want to sing “Great Green Globs of Greasy, Grimy, Gopher Guts?” Awesome. Why don’t you lead it?

    NOW: Welcome to Brownies. Today, we’re having a SAFE indoor “campfire,” singing songs around this artificial theatrical campfire prop. For snack, we’ll have s’mores made with Marshmallow Fluff. What’s that, Sarah? You have a song request? Well, all song requests have to be approved by Power-Trippy Owl, because we don’t trust you not to sing something inappropriate. Sure, Jenny, you can go to the bathroom; let me find someone to escort you fifteen feet away. I know we’ve known you since Sparks, and you’ve never run away from a meeting, but Rules Are Rules.

  62. Emily January 11, 2014 at 2:55 pm #

    @Jenny Islander–First off, how old is your daughter? PLEASE say she’s a Spark/Daisy, or a Brownie, because for that age group, the “adult in the vicinity” rule would be reasonable, somewhat…..although, I think an older sibling would be fine too. Also, did the Scout leader say how large the “vicinity” was? If not, well, I could say that I live in the “vicinity” of Toronto, since I’m an hour away. If you don’t ask, technically, you could feign ignorance, and let your daughter sell her Thin Mints independently. By the way, have you tried them frozen? Not only do they taste exponentially better that way; it also prevents melted chocolate on your hands.

  63. Lesly January 11, 2014 at 3:42 pm #

    15 Year old High Functioning autistic high school student in a special autistic life skills class
    Can I go to the bathroom please? Teacher Sure go ahead!

    15 Year oldHigh functioning autistic high school student in a special autistic life skills class!
    Can I go to the bathroom please? Teacher Its not break time you can go to the bathroom on your break or pay 5 dollars and wait for one of the assistants to take you because you have to be supervised 100 percent of the time your in school! Its one of our polocies in our program!

  64. Teri January 11, 2014 at 4:15 pm #

    Get up, get dressed, make breakfast, know everything I need for school and get it ready (either the night before or that morning), get to school on time (either by public transport, including taking bus fare out of Mum’s purse as necessary, or half-hour walk depending on mood) all without seeing a parent.

    Dad commuted away weekly, Mum was either at work before we woke up or in bed till noon after a late shift.

    “Wake up, here’s your clothes, breakfast is waiting downstairs, I’ve packed your bags for school, don’t forget it’s gym today, put a coat on, you don’t want to freeze between the front door and the car, no you can’t get out and walk the last 20 yards in full sight of dozens of teachers and parents in cars, we have to wait until we get to the front of the car pool line.”

  65. SKL January 11, 2014 at 6:48 pm #

    Get a job / here’s some money
    What’s this C? / let’s do your homework
    Go buy some milk / hop in the car
    Change your brother’s diaper / what shall I make you for breakfast?
    Oh nice, a climbing tree! / put on your elbow pads
    Bring me the matches / don’t touch the electric cord
    Change the batteries / I need to unscrew the child-proof battery cover
    yes, you may go to the restroom / wait for me to take you
    I told you to wear your hat / what was your caregiver thinking?
    Speak when spoken to / don’t talk to strangers
    Come home at dark / let’s schedule a play-date
    Don’t shoot your eye out / isn’t that illegal?

  66. Emily January 11, 2014 at 6:49 pm #

    @Lesly–“Pay five dollars” to go to the bathroom outside of break time?!?!? Really?!?!? Prisoners don’t get treated like that.

  67. Lesly January 11, 2014 at 6:54 pm #

    @Emily They pay with fake school money

  68. Jenny Islander January 11, 2014 at 8:55 pm #

    @Emily: She’s nine and a half. And she strongly implied that “in the vicinity” means “in line of sight.”

    I will say this for our local scout leaders: Their group activities center around things like hypothermia-proofing and how to start a fire in the woods, and they have no problem with teaching the old camp songs.

  69. Jenny Islander January 11, 2014 at 8:56 pm #

    Sorry, second “she” refers to the co-leader of the troop.

  70. Jim Holton January 11, 2014 at 11:09 pm #

    1980: Sure you can go to the mall by yourself/with a friend
    Today: There could be sexual predators at the mall who will kidnap you and kill you.

  71. Warren January 11, 2014 at 11:41 pm #

    THEN…kids were told there was nothing they couldn’t do if they put there minds to it.
    NOW…kids are told there is nothing they can do without supervision, training, background checks, insurance, safety equipment, and prior state approval.

    THEN….kids were told they could be anything they wanted to be when they grew up.
    NOW….kids might as well be told they are screwed.

  72. K January 12, 2014 at 12:44 am #

    2014: In Australia, people under 18 still have to apply for a Working with Children Check if they have a paid job (volunteers under 18 are exempt) working with other people their age.

  73. Emily January 12, 2014 at 1:04 am #

    @Lesly–Really? Nine and a half, and you have to be within constant visual contact of your daughter while she’s selling cookies for her Scout troop? Do you let her walk to school/the park/the library/the corner store/around the neighbourhood alone? If so, then I really don’t see the problem with her selling cookies alone, as long as you told her not to go inside the houses of people she doesn’t know, and possibly kept in contact via cell phones, which didn’t exist in 1980, but neither did this level of paranoia. Maybe you could simply give your daughter the amount of independence you think she’s ready for, and just keep it between the two of you.

  74. Donna January 12, 2014 at 8:44 am #

    “Really? Nine and a half, and you have to be within constant visual contact of your daughter while she’s selling cookies for her Scout troop?”

    Girl Scouts demands that the girls be accompanied by an adult when selling and delivering cookies through 5th grade (about 11). Since it is on all the printed materials about cookie sales, I assume the mandate comes from national headquarters and not the individual troops.

    I am simply ignoring the rule. I dropped out of girl scouts because I didn’t want to sell cookies when I was little and I have no intention of doing it now. After about 2 houses, my daughter decided she didn’t like selling door-to-door so she stopped anyway.

  75. Emily January 12, 2014 at 9:17 am #

    @Donna–Oh, so it’s a top-down thing. Bummer. Anyway, I can’t remember the last time I saw a Girl Guide (I’m Canadian) selling cookies door-to-door. It’s all done in front of stores now, and the most recent time was this past fall, around a kiosk in the shopping mall. I say “around,” because the girls didn’t stay at the kiosk. Their leaders did, and just quietly looked on, while the girls (Guide age, like Lesly’s daughter) politely approached people and asked them if they’d like to buy cookies. I have to say, this approach is less free-range, and it does subvert a long-standing tradition of door-to-door, but at the same time, maybe it’s simply more effective. I mean, when you see people at the mall, or entering or exiting a department store or grocery store, presumably these people are shopping anyway, right? So, they’re up, dressed, and prepared to interact with the world, and they know they’ll be spending some money that way. Also, people tend to shop at larger stores for longer stretches of time, so they might want a snack. So, it’s much more likely to get a “yes” answer out of that cohort of people, than the mixed bag you get ringing doorbells. The people who are in their homes might be in their pajamas, or in the shower, or not wanting to see anyone, or trying to eat less junk food, or not spend any money that day for whatever reason. Maybe they’re not even home at all–after all, people are busy these days. It’s also less inconvenient for the prospective cookie buyers, because the kids aren’t disturbing their privacy this way. So, I know there’s been a fair bit of snark around here about “Mall Scouts,” but maybe there was a good reason for the change that has nothing to do with paranoia, and more to do with trying to streamline the cookie sales.

  76. Donna January 12, 2014 at 9:59 am #

    Emily – Girl Scouts here do both. The girls take orders for a couple weeks first. Then when the troops place those orders, they order gobs more that are then sold in front of stores. The local grocery stores will have different troops of girls selling every weekend for a few weeks.

    I think the store sales have more to do with moving product than safety. It is much harder to say no to Thin Mints that are right there in the flesh (so to speak) than it is to say no to a picture of Thin Mints that you won’t even get to eat for a month. We are too much of an instant-gratification society today to wait a month for cookies.

    Also they do cookie orders at the beginning of January. Everyone is just coming off the gluttony of the holidays and still knee-deep in their New Year’s resolution to lose weight. Come mid-February when the store sales start, the holidays are long forgotten and the resolution dead. People are far more likely to buy cookies. Obviously, this problem could be solved by moving cookie sales later.

  77. katie January 12, 2014 at 10:26 am #

    Things to teach kids in 1980: How to Walk to School

    Things to teach kids today: How to get fat being and that one should expect to be chaufered around everywhere in a giant gas guzzler.

    Then the schools will preach more lip service to helping the environment.

  78. katie January 12, 2014 at 10:29 am #


    Well that’s why I find girl scouts stupid and useless. It’s just a check box. Blah Blah my kids in girl scouts. Worse when I’ve been asked to buy the PARENTS were the ones making the phone calls not the kids. What on earth is that supposed to teach kids? There will always be someone to dump work on if you don’t want to do it and then you can steal the credit.

  79. Emily January 12, 2014 at 10:59 am #

    @Donna–I don’t think I’d blame the “instant gratification mindset” for people not wanting to wait a month for cookies. I think that the “place an order and wait a month” is simply a poor business model; not to mention how inconvenient it is tracking orders, and then making a SECOND round of the neighbourhood to deliver the cookies, only to find that half the customers aren’t home. I’ve experienced that first-hand, because my high school band sold cheese and dessert squares the same way. Anyway, back to “instant gratification”–if you really wanted cookies right now, you could buy a box of Oreos for half the price, and they’re conveniently sold pretty much anywhere–including right inside the stores that the Girl Guides/Scouts are selling outside of. Also, in years past, it’s taken MUCH more than a month here–cookies ordered in the fall, wouldn’t be delivered until the spring. Maybe that’s because of the weather (we just came off a stretch of temperatures in the -20’s), or maybe it’s because of some other glitch, but my point is, it’s not a moral failing on the part of the customers.

    I think there are some times (in a First World context, anyway), when wanting (relatively) instant gratification is reasonable, and buying cookies is one of them. There are some times when “delayed gratification” is reasonable, like if you’re ordering a custom-designed T-shirt or an engraved iPod online, but a relatively simple, non-custom purchase of snack food, isn’t one of those situations. So, I don’t think the problem is that people want instant gratification; I think the problem is that the old model forced the Scouts and Guides to sell an “instant gratification” type of product, under a “delayed gratification” type of business model. Yes, the new system means that each group has to just guess how many boxes of cookies people will buy. It’s even harder in the States, because apparently, the Scouts sell multiple different varieties at once, while your neighbours in Canada do Thin Mints in the fall, and vanilla/chocolate in the spring, or maybe it’s the other way around.

    However, given the popularity of the cookies, I don’t really see excess stock being a huge problem. For example, when I was in university, one of my friends from choir was also a Girl Guide leader, and she made a fortune selling Thin Mints to her fellow choir members. She wasn’t even actively trying to sell them–she just casually let people know that she was a Girl Guide leader, and everyone started asking to buy cookies.

  80. Emily January 12, 2014 at 1:25 pm #

    Another thing I forgot to mention–the “adult supervision” mandate creates even MORE of an uneven playing field for kids selling anything. Besides the fact that you might have one child in any given Brownie group living in a densely populated neighbourhood, and another living in a more isolated area, some kids might have at least one parent who has the time and resources to accompany them cookie-selling, and others who don’t. So, the “Mall Scouts” solution (or “Outside of Big-Box Store Scouts”), with, say, three kids signing up for each shift, might be the only way that everyone gets a fair chance at actually selling something. Now, some people might say something about how “life isn’t fair,” and “competition prepares kids for the real world,” and that’s true, but most “competitive” activities for kids are at least designed to be somewhat fair. The teams are sorted according to age and ability, each team gets roughly the same amount of practice time before each game, and everyone starts off at zero. Pitting the child with the parent who can drop everything to sell Thin Mints with her, against the child who goes to after-school after six every day, against the child who’s enrolled in multiple other activities that take up most of her time, would be like running a Little League game where one team started with zero points, while the other team started with thirty, or playing a team of five-year-olds against a team of ten-year-olds.

  81. Emily January 12, 2014 at 1:33 pm #

    *I meant, “the child who goes to after-school care until after six every day, because her parents work.”

  82. Donna January 12, 2014 at 1:49 pm #

    Emily – I wonder if sales have even really increased. While you do hit markets that would not have had access to them on the basis of not knowing a Girl Scout before, scarcity breeds desire. While the cookies are still only available for a small part of the year, they are now overly available for that small part of the year. Where I would have ordered several boxes due to the initial “cool, Girl Scout cookies” excitement, I am now more likely to buy a single box thinking “I’ll grab some more tomorrow if I want them,” and then never want them because after the initial “cool, Girl Scout cookies” excitement is over, it is just another cookie.

    The store-model also takes out any need to develop real selling skills on the part of the girls. It is just a matter of who comes to the store during your designated time to sell. The girls basically walk up to people and say “do you want some Girl Scout cookies” and people either stop to buy or say a hasty “no” as they continue into the store. Nobody is stopping for a sales pitch.

  83. Donna January 12, 2014 at 2:01 pm #

    However, selling Girl Scout cookies door-to-door before 6 on weekdays is not going to generate much by way of sales. Most people are at work at that time.

    Also, there is still the exact same competition. The prizes that the girls can earn for selling are all based on the individual orders, not the store sales. The store sales only benefit the troup. If a girl wants to earn an individual trip to Disney World, she has to sell the old-school way.

  84. SKL January 12, 2014 at 2:14 pm #

    Man, I hate fundraisers. I forbid my kids (age 7) to bring the stuff home in the first place. If I need to contribute to something, I’ll give money. My kids are not in girl scouts, but if they were, I’d do the minimum purchase and donate it to the military and be done with it. Blah. When my sister-in-law asks me to buy popcorn for her kid’s boy scout drive, I write a donation check instead.

    If we’re talking about kids who can actually do the sales work without hitting up Granny or getting arrested for being out without supervision, then go for it. But that isn’t how it works any more, at least not until my kids get a lot older.

  85. rhodykat January 12, 2014 at 3:31 pm #

    1980: It’s going to take awhile, bring a book
    Now: It’s going to take awhile, bring a screen

  86. Jenny Islander January 12, 2014 at 5:27 pm #

    @Emily: The main problem around here during cookie season is that it’s usually foul, icy, or utterly freezing, so that people don’t want to have kids dripping snow and ice on their doorstep and the kids aren’t very enthused either. Luckily my husband’s employer and our church both look kindly on Scouts selling stuff in their building.

  87. Warren January 12, 2014 at 9:05 pm #

    Wow all the negativity with fund raising, and door to door canvassing.
    Yes it is about raising money for organizations, but there is alot more to it.

    Getting kids to set goals for themselves, learning how to talk to “strangers”. Meeting the people that live in their community, learning manners, respect, and independance.

    My kids went door to door, as I refused to take them into work, for them as so many parents do. I also refused to buy anything from parents that brought it into work. If the kid doesn’t address me personally they are not getting my support.

  88. SKL January 12, 2014 at 9:15 pm #

    On the topic of fundraisers and then vs. now:

    When my sister was petite 5yo, she went door to door to get pledges for a read-a-thon and later for a bike-a-thon. (I stood on the sidewalk partway down the street while she went door to door. I didn’t want people to talk to me instead of her.) She got some pretty good “per mile” and “per book” pledges because people didn’t think it would add up very fast. Ha! She ended up reading and listing (on her own) dozens of books, and biking 10 miles. Cha ching! LOL.

    Today, I don’t know – probably the cops would have been called multiple times about a “toddler” wandering alone.

    That’s another thing – people calling kids as old as 5 “toddlers.” Really? Funny – my second graders’ socks say “toddler” on the label. Sad.

  89. Emily January 13, 2014 at 8:47 am #

    >>Getting kids to set goals for themselves, learning how to talk to “strangers”. Meeting the people that live in their community, learning manners, respect, and independence.<<

    @Warren–It's not perfect, but kids still learn goal-setting, manners, and talking to "strangers" when selling Girl Guide/Girl Scout cookies, or Boy Scout popcorn, in malls or outside stores. Independence falls a bit by the wayside, except for MAYBE the very youngest kids, because for a lot of them, speaking to people they don't know *IS* being independent, and it's not as good as walking around the neighbourhood and getting to know the neighbours, so you're right there. I also agree with you that parents selling their kids' cookies/popcorn/wrapping paper/whatever, at work, is a stupid idea. It teaches the kids that their parents will do everything for them, and also, it puts the parent's co-workers in a bad situation–if they don't shell out ten dollars for an ugly roll of holographic Santa paper, then they might risk being viewed as "mean," or "stingy," or a "kid-hater," or "not a team player." This goes double if the parent is in a higher-up position, and it's precisely the reason why my dad refused to do any of that stuff when my brother and I were kids–as a partner at a small law firm, he was afraid it would have created animosity among the staff. I mean, he would have made it strictly optional, of course, but he didn't want the staff to be second-guessing themselves as to whether "optional" REALLY meant optional. Of course, my parents didn't want us going door-to-door either (at least not in elementary school; they were fine with me selling band cheese door-to-door in high school), so they'd usually just write a cheque.

  90. SKL January 13, 2014 at 9:49 am #

    A funny: When I was a kid, our school would send kids home with a bag of Christmas card boxes to market, beginning in 2nd grade. We were latchkey kids, so I went around the neighborhood on my own and took orders. I didn’t get as many orders as I was hoping. It was pretty hard work, I learned. So, knowing it was wrong but not wanting to deal with the reality, I wrote made-up names and addresses on the order form. I wrote so many that I actually got a prize for selling the most boxes of cards. When they gave me two bags of cards to deliver (and collect on), I panicked and just left them on anonymous people’s porches. Time passed and eventually my mom had to find out what I’d done. You can imagine how that ended.

    As free range as I am, I think 2nd grade might be a little too young to be completely independent in fundraising. LOL. Or maybe I was just a really bad example….

  91. Donna January 13, 2014 at 11:06 am #

    @SKL – I agree on the supervising 2nd graders in fundraising. I think sometimes here people jump too quickly to safety when there are other perfectly valid reasons for supervision of young children.

    Girl Scouts may be concerned with child safety by demanding that the younger kids be accompanied. They may also have had issues with young children doing what you did or delivering cookies to wrong houses (which then has to be made right at an expense to somebody) or collecting incorrect amounts of money or making incorrect change or doing something childish while out and about in uniform that reflects poorly on the organization. While I let my 2nd grader take orders for cookies by herself (when she was still interested), I will go with her to deliver because she is only 8, she is still learning how to add and subtract money, keeping track of stuff is still in the learning process, and I don’t want to be responsible for her age-appropriate mistakes.

    Ultimately it is Girl Scout’s brand and reputation on the line. It is not surprising that they would want an adult out there making sure things are kosher.

  92. Warren January 13, 2014 at 11:58 am #

    Sorry Emily, but what used to be a canvass for fundraising, now turned into mallcrawling for fundraising is no different than holding trick or treating in a parking lot or rec. center.

    If my kid is old enough to walk to school in grade 2, she is old enough to walk up and down a few streets in our area to take cookie orders, or pledges.
    And as for the parents that bring it into work, they are told to have their kid call me at home and give me their sales pitch. And then they get my support.

  93. Emily January 13, 2014 at 12:52 pm #

    @Warren–I like your “have Kiddo call me directly” approach. I think we agree on the core issue, which is “the child must ask, not the parent.” As for door-to-door versus supervised store/mall sales, you do know that Sparks and Beavers start at age five, right? That’s a bit young to be completely independent, for reasons like what happened in SKL’s story. Also, I’d even venture to say that door-to-door sales are more complex than walking to and from school, because of the necessity of taking orders, handling money, etc. HOWEVER, I think unsupervised selling should be okay by age nine or so. That was *sort of* what was happening that day at the mall–the Girl Guides were doing all the selling themselves, and the leaders were just standing at the kiosk, not doing anything, probably to satisfy the “Safe Guide” requirements, which say that kids can’t be unsupervised until the age of TWELVE (barf). It’s not right, but as I said, it was the kids selling, not the adults. As I said, though, there are other issues besides safety, like manners (more polite to try to sell to people who are already shopping, than bothering them at home), effectiveness (more likely to get a “yes” out of people who are already shopping, eliminates the problem of walking through neighbourhoods of people who aren’t home, etc.), and fairness (group selling goals instead of individual; everyone puts in an equal shift, kids who can’t do door-to-door aren’t penalized, etc). There’s also the weather issue–cookie season often coincides with winter, and Canadian winters can be pretty bad. Last week, it was in the -20’s for several days, with blizzard warnings and road closures. Anyway, my point is, sometimes things have to change a bit, but my hill to die on (like yours) is, “the kid must ask.” Oh, and about the whole “competition” issue, sometimes working together can be a good thing too–when I was in Australia, the Brownie group I worked with told me that they used their cookie money to put together food and toy hampers for the less fortunate at Christmas time.

  94. Donna January 13, 2014 at 1:06 pm #

    “what used to be a canvass for fundraising, now turned into mallcrawling for fundraising is no different than holding trick or treating in a parking lot or rec. center.”

    I disagree. Halloween is a specific event that happens a couple hours a year on a specific day with no need for a return visit. Easy to plan your life around. Unless I know a specific scout to support, I’d prefer to buy my cookies from in front of the store. Less hassle that way. I get my cookies right away without needing be home for two separate visits. I don’t have to worry about reining in my psycho puppy while trying to talk to a girl scout and fill out an order form. And I’ll actually buy fewer boxes.

    This change in business plan had nothing to do with safety. It was the result of rich parents being able to afford to make huge cookie orders (to win cool prizes) that the girls later sold in front of stores. Troups caught on, took over the sales model and now the troups do it and the playing field is somewhat more level again.

    Insisting that an organization stick to an antiquated sales model because … I’ve really read no reason other than we need to do it the way it was done in the past … makes no sense and shows a complete inability to move with the times. As much has some want to believe that it is, it truly isn’t 1970 any more. Neighborhoods are simply not filled with housewives to sell cookies to after school any more, and people are not exactly sitting home waiting for kids to drop by hawking cookies on the weekends either. We are busier and more active today. And god forbid you live in my neighborhood where the residents are overly upset by people they don’t know knocking on their doors and older kids are likely to get 911 called on them.

  95. Emily January 13, 2014 at 2:42 pm #

    >>However, selling Girl Scout cookies door-to-door before 6 on weekdays is not going to generate much by way of sales. Most people are at work at that time.<<

    True, but that can still eat up weekend time indirectly, by pushing off things that would normally be done after school, on the weekends. Large school projects would likely be postponed until the weekends, because that's the only time that the child would have to spread out with that papier- mache volcano and poster board, whether the parents helped or not. Extra-curricular activities would likely be chosen with this schedule in mind, so that all (or most) of the sessions take place on the weekends, pediatricians/dentists/orthodontists would be chosen largely based on Saturday availability, and then there are the things that normally happen on weekends anyway–chores, errands, family time, church or synagogue (if the family is religious), sometimes birthday parties, etc., etc., etc. So, by the time you fit all of those things in on the weekends, the time available for selling those Thin Mints would likely be a little thin.

  96. Emily January 13, 2014 at 2:44 pm #

    Edited to add: By “that,” I meant, a child being in after-school care until six o’clock or later every day.

  97. Donna January 13, 2014 at 5:17 pm #

    Emily – The time available to sell Thin Mints is thin anyway. People are busy. People would rather do other things.

    My daughter doesn’t go to after school most days and all our extracurriculars are done during the week, and she still only had essentially one day to sell cookies. Weekdays are worthless to try for the most part. They only had 2 weekends to take orders. She was at grandma’s for half of one and at friends’ for the entirety of the others.

    Whether in after school or not, selling Girl Scout cookies is like everything else in the world. If it is important to you, you will make it a priority. If it is not, you will allow other things to get in the way.

  98. Emily January 13, 2014 at 5:25 pm #

    @Donna–That’s exactly why the “sign up for equal shifts selling at a mall/department store” model is fairer to the kids than the “sell door-to-door at the mercy of parents’ availability” model. Little Susie may think that selling Girl Scout cookies is very important, but if her parents don’t buy into that (either because they don’t have time, or they think it’s “just another stupid fundraiser”), then she won’t get to do it. However, if she signs up at Girl Scouts for a Saturday afternoon, and possibly arranges a ride with someone else, then she DOES get to do it, and her parents don’t have to do anything. So, when you stick to the “door-to-door” method, but also mandate that kids must be supervised, then the “Mall Scouts” method actually becomes MORE free-range by comparison. I’m not going to say it’s necessarily better, but I’d say that it’s a necessary evil, because, of course, it’s not 1970 anymore. Also, now that I remember, I did do a few things with the high school band that were held in malls–a duet of Christmas songs with a friend of mine, and also a “ticket sales blitz,” wherein we sold tickets to our concerts at a shopping mall on a Saturday afternoon. If I remember correctly, we had some of us playing music, and others selling, and we switched off. That way, people got a bit of a “preview” of the concert (although, we played different repertoire at the concert), while having the opportunity to buy tickets right then and there. It made a stronger connection between “small piece of paper that costs five dollars” and “concert, with music, played by real live people.”

  99. Warren January 13, 2014 at 6:06 pm #

    Well Donna I would rather have the kids come to my door, than to be bothered at the stores. Usually have my hands full, and for the most part do not have cash on me, as I am pretty much a plastic payer.

    Emily, you do not need to remind me of the ages my daughters were when enrolled. They went door to door, from day one. I basically sat on the hood of my service truck with coffee and smoke while they did their fundraising. Guess what, the homeowners that ordered, and their was lots, wrote their own names, and contact info on the sheet happily.

    It is not rocket sceince. Parents just have to make the time. Something very lacking these days.

  100. Donna January 13, 2014 at 6:18 pm #

    @Emily – The store-thing here requires that the parents be present too. I assume that it would be okay to bring one or two extra kids but not a whole troup of kids with too busy parents.

    In all honesty, if the parents aren’t into selling cookies or the kids can’t make their strong desires to do so understood, neither door-to-door nor store sales are going to happen. Mom and dad aren’t going to change their family plans either way. In other words, if our life is so full that we can’t make time to go door-to-door on Saturday in January, we also are probably not going to make time to go sit in a supermarket parking lot for 3 hours on Saturday in February. Even without the parent needing to be there, lessons are still going to be had, playdates arranged, family activities planned, etc. If mom or dad is into it or understand the importance to the child, time will be carved out.

  101. Emily January 14, 2014 at 12:57 am #

    @Warren–I’m sorry, I didn’t know your kids started with Sparks. You never mentioned it before, so I assumed they were a bit older. Anyway, you’re a good father to be driving your kids around and patiently waiting while they sold cookies.

    @Donna–Wow, really? Parents have to accompany kids for mall/store sales too? I didn’t know. Around here, it’s always been maybe two or three kids, with a leader. Most recently, when I last saw this happening at the mall, there were two leaders and (I think) four Guides, but it was a busy Saturday afternoon, so that’s probably why they did it that way. I can’t imagine having a parent for each kid–that would be too many people, and it’d detract from the purpose of the activity.

  102. Donna January 14, 2014 at 8:36 am #

    Emily – There are only ever 2 or 3 girls and they are usually with 2 adults. The general scenario are a couple of younger girls out and about asking people to buy cookies (scouts here seems highly concentrated in young elementary school ages) and 2 adults sitting behind a table dealing with the money. There may also be an slightly older scout behind the table helping with the money. Really no different than what you are describing with the possible exception of an additional adult (which is enjoyable for some conversation while the girls are doing their thing).

    Who exactly do you think are leaders in girl scout troups? PARENTS!!! At least 1 or 2 of the girls that you see are there with their mother as a leader is not going to go out and sell Girl Scout cookies with other kids leaving her own Girl Scout home. So, as you describe, you are only looking at exactly what I said – a mother with her kids and maybe 1 or 2 extras tagging along.

    I also wouldn’t be too sure that the adults that you see are leaders. Our leaders aren’t always involved in the store cookie sales. It is sometimes parent volunteers because the leaders have other things to do. Since stores only allow one troup at a time, there are sign-ups, etc and the leaders aren’t always available at the times available to the troup.

  103. Andy January 14, 2014 at 12:06 pm #

    @Donna “Who exactly do you think are leaders in girl scout troups? PARENTS!!!”

    That is interesting. Around here, scout troups are led by grown up scouts, usually college students or little older or doing last year in high school. It is very rare for parents to be leaders of scouts.

    Peoples involvement in such activities gradually goes down after they finish college and go on working full time and stops completely after starting own family.

  104. Warren January 16, 2014 at 2:50 pm #

    It is no big deal of patience or such. It is a matter of incorporating things.

    They had canvassing to do……….I can drink my morning coffee, read the paper anywhere including my truck. Or walk the dogs, do my paperwork in the truck. Basically taking something I want or need to do and incorporate it into what they want or need to do.