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A Solo Act

(by Diana Dinerman)

I was never a Girl Scout. I was in the Brownies for exactly two months, then we quit. I say “we” because group activities aren’t just about what a kid wants to do, but also about how much a parent is willing to chauffeur. Neither my mother nor I liked the participating or the driving. You could call us loners, but I prefer virtuosos. We looked at life like a solo act. We weren’t joiners.

I didn’t have a hands-on mom. She didn’t pack me lunch, or drive me to friends’ houses, or talk to other mothers at the bus stop. My mother was a pediatric nurse. She worked long shifts taking care of other people’s children, and when she wasn’t doing that, she was reading or baking. She was at work by 6:30 a.m. and later on call with a beeper, long after I graduated from high school. She wasn’t available to teach me much, but if I came home from school and saw eggs and butter on the counter, I knew we were baking.