So, a Brownie said to me...

One thing I love about being a Brownie leader is talking with the girls.  I have a lovely group of Brownies at the moment, who for the most part are chatty, confident and readily willing to voice their opinions (of which there are plenty).  There are some conversations which have made me smile, for various reasons, and I've enjoyed writing them up throughout the year.  So here is a collected volume of things I've talked about with Brownies (who are 7-10 years old).

Before the Brownie meeting I gave blood, so I have a dressing on my elbow and as I'm wearing a polo shirt everyone can see it. A couple of girls ask me how I hurt myself, so I explain I didn't hurt myself, I donated blood.

Brownie: So you went to the hospital, and a nurse took some blood from you.
Me: Yes, just under a pint of blood, but my body will soon make more blood to replace the blood that's been taken, and in 12 weeks I can go back and do it again.  It only hurt a little bit when the needle went in, but they give everyone tea and biscuits afterwards to make sure you feel okay. 
Brownie: What happens to your blood now?
Me: It goes to a testing centre where it is tested to make sure it is healthy blood and can be given to a poorly person. 
Brownie: Then what happens?
Me: I don't know where it then goes, but eventually it will go to a hospital and be given to a patient and it could save their life.
Brownie: Like my nan?
Me: If your nan is poorly and needs blood, it will come from someone like me who donated it. 
Brownie: So all the blood she gets is real blood? I thought it was pretend blood. 
Me: I don't think scientists have made pretend blood that's as good as real blood yet. 
Brownie: Can I donate blood?
Me: You need to be 17, so you have a few years to wait, but it's great that you want to do it.
Brownie: I want to save lives just like you, Fluffy Owl!

I really hope she does donate blood when she's older!

We're at a residential event, the Brownies are all in bed and have had their ten minutes or so to chat, so the other leaders and I are going round the rooms checking everyone is okay and turning out the lights.  I walk into the room which has the oldest Brownies in. One Brownie is reading and another is knitting.

Me: Hello Brownies, just checking you're all okay before I say goodnight and turn off the lights.  Are you ready to go to sleep?
Brownie 1:  Fluffy Owl, please, can I finish my page? I don't want to stop now!
Brownie 2: Yes, please Fluffy Owl, let [name] finish her page and I need to finish my row! I can't stop in the middle of a row! Can you knit?
Me: Yes, I can, and I know how hard it is to stop in the middle of a row.
Brownie 2: Then you understand! If I stop now when I'm in the middle of a row then the stitches could all come off and my mum hasn't taught me what to do with off stitches yet. Please don't make me stop!
Me: I understand! Okay!  I'll go and check on the other rooms, when I come back to this room I want to see you both in bed with your book and knitting on the floor and the light off.

I go and check on the other rooms then head back to the first one.  The light is off, the book and knitting are neatly on the floor.  Having a quick glance, I can see the Brownie did indeed finish her row.  These two Brownies both moved on to Guides this year, and I spent some time chatting to them when I helped out at a Guide meeting.  Knitting Brownie introduced me to a Guide who didn't know me.  She said I was one of her favourite owls, mainly because I understood about knitting and reading and not being able to go to sleep until something was finished!

We're playing 'In the Giant's House' in which the girls are in pairs or threes, and a leader calls out a letter.  The girls then have to get into the shape of something beginning with that letter which you might find in the giant's house -  then the leaders and other girls have to work out what they are.  I called out 'A' and the girls have made, among other things, an alligator and an apple.  Two girls in the middle are just bouncing around, and after a few wrong guesses, we have no idea what they are.

Me: Right, I think we give up.  What are you?
Brownie 1: Really? Does no one get it? We did it at school!
Me: Nope, no one can guess what you are.  Can you tell us?
Brownie 1: I'm an atom!
Brownie 2: And I'm 'a' molecule! We're bouncing off each other!

At the next week's meeting we're having some animal guests.  One of my Brownies is trying to guess what sort of animal:

Brownie: A dog!
Me: No.
Brownie: Cats?
Me: No, although I do love cats.
Brownie: Snakes? Lizards? Reptiles?
Me: Nope, nothing like that.
Brownie: Fish! A fish! Lots of fish!
Me: Nope. No reptiles, no amphibians, no fish.
Brownie: A skunk!
Me: Definitely absolutely not.
Brownie: Can I have a clue?
Me: Of course.  Think about Brownies, what sort of animals are linked with Brownies?
Brownie: So it's like you, Fluffy Owl, you're linked with Brownies.
Me: Yes! Exactly! So, what am I?  Who am I? You just said it!
Brownie: A vegetarian! We've got a vegetarian visiting!
Me: Not quite...

We're doing a craft in small groups and I'm sitting at a table with four Brownies.  As a few girls are absent, there are enough materials for the adults to have a go at the craft as well.  I work out an easier way of doing something  than the way we were shown.

Me: Brownies, I've worked something out.
Brownie: Listen to Fluffy Owl! She always has good advice.
Me: Ah, thank you, I'm pleased you think that.
Brownie: It's true.  And my mum says you should always tell people when they do something nice or good.

I'm walking home from a friend's house and see a group of children playing in the street.  One is a Brownie, but I don't recognise the others.  The Brownie spots me, waves, and I wave back.  As I walk away I hear the following:

Little boy: Who was that?
Brownie: That's my Fluffy Owl.  She's my favourite Owl.
Little boy: She's my favourite Owl too!

The Guide unit meets after Brownies, and one night I stay on to help as they're a leader short.  The Guides are making cheese scones, the idea being to do it as independently as possible so each table has a recipe and ingredients etc.  A few of my Brownies have recently moved up to Guides and one of the Guide leaders has said how well they've settled and how well we've 'trained' them at Brownies, how confident they are and keen to give things a go.

Guide: Fluffy Owl...
Me: You can call me Amy if you want now you're a Guide!
Guide: Okay.  Amy.  The recipe says I need a teaspoon.
Me: Yes...
Guide: So can I go and get a teaspoon?
Me: Of course, there's someone already in the kitchen.
Guide comes back, carrying a teaspoon, a soup spoon and a normal dessert spoon.
Guide: Amy, which one do I need?
Me: Think about it, how many times did we do cooking at Brownies?
Guide: This one? [brandishing the teaspoon]
Me: Yep, that's the one.
Guide: I'm glad that some things are the same in Brownies and Guides!

One evening, Ben walks me to Brownies, and chastely kisses me goodbye.  Three Brownies see us but don't say anything.  Later on that evening, these girls (who are about 8, and some of my younger Brownies) are doing an activity round a table and I go over to see how they're getting on.

Brownie 1: Fluffy Owl, I didn't think you were married.
Me: That's because I'm not married.
Brownie 1: But I saw you kiss a man in the street.
Brownie 2: That's her boyfriend not her husband.
Brownie 1: I don't kiss my boyfriend in the street.
Brownie 2: That's because you don't want your other boyfriends to see you!
Me: Other boyfriends? How many do you have?
Brownie 1: Three.
Me: That's quite a lot.
Brownie 2: I've decided to be like a grown up and only have one.
Me: I think that's a very good idea.  One is enough for the grown ups I know.  Some of my friends don't have any boyfriends and they're happy too.
Brownie 3: Oh Fluffy Owl. Being a grown up sounds SO boring.  I'm always going to have more than one boyfriend!

How I would love to see these girls in ten years or so and remind them of this conversation!

One evening, we're making mango lassi - basically pureed mango, double cream, whole milk, natural yogurt and a bit of sugar.  I absolutely love it (in small portions!) but I know not everyone does.  I'm in the kitchen with a small group, mixing all the ingredients together.

Brownie 1: Fluffy Owl, this looks really weird.
Me: I know, but it looks better when it's all mixed together and it tastes really good.

We keep mixing, and then everyone has a small amount to try.  If they like it, there is plenty more.

Brownie 1:  This is REALLY good.
Me: I know! It's great.
Brownie 2: I won't like it, so I'm not going to try it.
Me: Are you sure? You might really like it.
Brownie 2:  I won't like it, so there's no point trying it.
Brownie 3: But you might like it, you don't know until you try it.  It's only milk and yogurt and mango, and you like milk and yogurt and mango.
Brownie 2: But I won't like this.
Me: You don't have to have any if you don't want to.
Brownie 1: More for us!
Brownie 3, to Brownie 2: What's your favourite food?
Brownie 2: Chocolate!
Brownie 3:  Well that was new once.  You didn't know you would like it before you tried it, but you tried it and now you like it.  This is the same.
Brownie 2: No it's not, I've always liked chocolate.
Me: What she is saying is that everything you eat now was new to you once upon a time.  So things like chocolate you thought you might like, but you didn't know you were going to like, you had to try it to see.  And your tastes change as you get older - when I was little I hated olives but now I love them.
Brownie 1: I love olives!
Me: And that shows everyone is different and likes different things.
Brownie 2: But Fluffy Owl, we're talking about chocolate not olives! We're all girls and all girls are born liking chocolate! It's in our NDA.
Me: Do you mean DNA?  The thing inside us that makes us who we are?
Brownie 2: Maybe.  Does DNA like chocolate?

We're discussing with the girls what they want to do next term and they suggest having a party at the end of term.

Brownie 1: Can we have some cake at the party?
Me: Of course! We can't have a party without cake! That's a law!
Brownie 1, to her friend: SEE?! If Fluffy Owl says something then it must be true!

2014 has been a great year Guiding-wise, especially during the Big Brownie Birthday when we celebrated 100 years of Brownies.  Guiding is a team effort and I feel lucky to be part of such an active area - there are exciting plans developing for 2015 and beyond!  I am very appreciative of all the thank you cards and presents I received throughout the year and I hope my Brownies know just how much I enjoy being Fluffy Owl.


  1. This is just lovely. And so true. I like the in-between age where they are trying to be grown-up but not self-conscious about being children. And not afraid to ask questions. Plus, the candid announcements of affection and appreciation are ace.

    1. It's a great age - I hope they always ask questions, and I also hope that I have a suitable answer for them!

  2. I love this article! I laughed out loud at a couple of these! Being a teacher means I get a lot of random little conversations like this too. Kids never fail to make me smile (unless they're being brutally honest and pointing out a huge spot on my face!) x

    1. A lot of them made me laugh at the time - which I then had to cover up before they asked me why I was laughing! Honesty is great - did you enjoy that activity? No. Ah, ok then, we won't be doing that again!

  3. Haha aww this was a great post! Reminds me of when I was a guide leader, and some of the silly things they used to say. I really liked the one about the boyfriends! :D

    1. The boyfriends one is my favourite! I'm looking forward to hearing what they come up with in 2015!


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