On My Honor, I Will Try

February 19, 2012 | 16 comments

I spread the cookie-order forms flat on the kitchen table, smooth the wrinkles and do some quick figuring.

I’m no math whiz, but I know improbability when I see it. I exhale one long breath, lay down my pen and look over the rims of my glasses at the two-person sales force across the table.

They are flashing their toothiest Girl Scout grins. One is wearing pigtails. I drum my fingers on the table.

How am I going to break it to them?

They have determined to each sell 1,000 boxes of cookies by March. In Girl Scout world, reaching a sales goal of this magnitude is something like being listed in the Fortune 500. And of course, it comes with a free Apple iPod Touch and the coveted title of “Mega Seller.”

I do some more figuring.

Statistically speaking, this would require half of all households in our rural county to purchase one box of cookies from our girls.

My oldest Scout slides a pencil behind her ear and widens her eyes, which suddenly look like a pair of Thin Mints resting atop her cheeks.

“Taylor sold, like, 503 boxes last year, Mom. You should have seen it!”

Naturally, Taylor is the daughter of the Troop leader.

I’m just about to explain my logic, when my brain rewinds. In the playback, I’m ten years old again. I remember all of it: the Girl Scout sash with sewn-on merit badges, the pressed uniform, the orange necktie, the outlandish sales-goal. I would bend headfirst into bitter winter winds, undeterred in my door-to-door sales drive. I would will the ink in my Bic pen not to freeze up because, after all, I was doing good in the name of the Girl Scouts of America.

And, of course, I wanted to take a wild stab at winning an eight-track player or whatever the grand-prize was.

I’m pretty sure I knocked on every door in our little Iowa town that year. Scratch that. Almost every door. I always skipped Fluorine, who shared an apartment with her pet monkey and who mistakenly believed every year that she’d won the Publisher’s Clearinghouse Sweepstakes. I was afraid to knock, thinking she’d be exceedingly disappointed to find a scrawny Girl Scout at her door instead of Ed McMahon.

All those years, I never once met my sales goal. But never did I feel like a failure. Perhaps there’s something magical about dreaming big, against all odds. I wonder if the rare chance of accomplishing what we’ve set out to do is sometimes just enough to buoy the soul.

Maybe that’s why I find myself where you see me now – unwilling to talk my girls down from their lofty ambitions.

According to my figuring, my Girl Scouts will fall about 900 boxes short of their goal.

Some of the dads in the neighborhood put their heads together and determined that all of the Girl Scouts should consider combining their orders. Then, they could share the Apple iPod Touch.

But my girls will have none of that.

I do think the oldest Scout in the house has begun to sense that her goal hovers a bit high. Just yesterday, I saw her eyeing a photograph of the “Eco-Wood Owl Necklace,” a shiny gold owl pendant threaded onto a blue string. The necklace is awarded to anyone who sells at least 50 boxes.

But you never know what can happen. After all, she’s sold 35 boxes so far. And it’s only February.

Reposting from last year’s archives, with a reminder for all of us: Dream Big! What are you dreaming these days?  How do your dreams buoy your soul?

Photos: Girls in Scout uniforms that originally belonged to me and my sisters.


by | February 19, 2012 | 16 comments


  1. Cheryl Smith

    I loved this post last year too! Still need that reminder.

    • dukeslee

      Me, too. We have today off from school, so the girls planned to do some selling today, but one of our Girl Scouts is under the weather, and the roads may be a bit icy. And here I am, with three large boxes of Girl Scout cookies tempting me! I may not have any left to sell. 🙂

  2. Elizabeth

    I love this post. My favorite part is the part about Flourine.

    • dukeslee

      Thank you, Elizabeth. Flourine was a true town character. Her pet monkey was named Sebastian.

  3. Dolly

    How precious that your girls can wear the same uniforms that you and your sister(s) wore 🙂

    • dukeslee

      Dolly and Monica … Yes, we’ve had a lot of fun with those uniforms. They had been packed away in my parents’ home for about 30 years, so I was surprised when we pulled them out and they were still in pretty decent shape.

  4. Monica Sharman

    About the uniforms—really?! That alone is a BIG dream come true, that you have girls who now wear those uniforms. Wow.

  5. steve

    That’s a lot of Thin Mints! Girl Scouts here set up tables at events and sell cookies to send to our men and women serving in the arm forces. I don’t know if that’s a national thing. I think in’s a shame really to put children under such pressure, so many parents do much of the selling anyway.

    • dukeslee

      Hi Steve,

      Thanks for your comment. I do think the cookie-selling activity is a good leadership activity, but I’m sure it could get out of hand, especially if children are expected to meet certain standards. That would be counterproductive. As parents, we can put that pressure on our kids in all sorts of venues — athletics, academics, etc. I hope and pray that I give my children ample opportunities to participate in a variety of activities, but never put them under pressure. That’s no fun at all — for child or parent.

      Thanks again, Steve. Glad you stopped by.

  6. Sheila Seiler Lagrand

    Hmm… I’m remembering something about a fundraising tea party at church…And a little girl whose American Girl doll savings ended up sufficient to sponsor a child for a year…

    Sometimes those big dreams come true.

    But they’re worth dreaming, either way.

    • dukeslee

      Ah yes. Right you are, Sheila. 😉 The tea party was a good reminder for me about a lot of things related to the power of prayer, perseverance, and dreaming big.

  7. Deb Russell

    Isn’t it so tempting the way they are doing it this year Jennifer? All those boxes of cookies just sitting there … My girls did very well this year, met their goal, and sold more than last year. They sold about 220 boxes between the two of them! Love the uniform pictures! Wish I still had mine.

  8. Jamie

    I’m definitely going to have to stick around here. Your words put a smile on my face and a little laughter in my day. I need to figure out how to bring this type of merriment to my own blog. Thanks, new friend. 🙂

  9. Missy

    So, if this was posted from last year, how did they do? Did they achieve the iPod? =)

    What fun memories for your girls.

    • dukeslee

      No iPod. 🙂

      They got an owl necklace and a journal, and they were quite pleased. They still sold quite a few boxes, and it gave them a healthy perspective.

  10. wolfsrosebud

    LOL… goals are a tough thing. I’m sure the disciples had just a few…


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