Was it this hard for my parents? I wanted to jump over the fence and help, or hit the judge with a spit wad so he would look toward my son’s pig.
My usual mild-mannered, calm demeanor was gone. In its place was a stressed-out bundle of nerves. Yet even a disgusted look from my spouse couldn’t deter me.
One class down, two to go. Before the second class, I cornered Brent like a fight manager in the boxing ring between rounds: “You really did a good job showing your pig.” Then the kicker: “Would you like to know how you could improve?”
Not particularly, I’m sure he said to himself. “I guess so,” he said to me, grudgingly.
All the information I’d been storing up for just this moment came gushing out like machine-gun fire. Brent waited patiently until I got it all out of my system, no doubt letting it go in one ear and out the other.
He didn’t have a champion pig, but he had a really good time as kids should at the fair. And he learned a lot.
I learned a lot too. Mainly, that I should try to keep my mouth shut. But also, that my children are growing up, and need to figure some things out on their own.
Plus, I have a list of helpful hints for next year:
Buy five 4-H shirts, one for each day of the fair. That way, you won’t spend every night washing one dirty, smelly 4-H shirt.
Get extra cash from the bank, and carry lots of ones and fives in your pocket. When your children are not busy, they’re eating fair food.
Don’t arrive at the fair too early on show day. That way you’re prevented from giving all those last minute instructions they don’t want in the first place.
Start preparations early to eliminate that last-minute rush. I know this is a joke, but it sounds good. When I was in 4-H, at least one of the ‘H’s’ stood for “Hurry!” As a mother, another stands for “Help!”
I’m hopeful that I’ll “settle in” to this new role as a 4-H mother. My family certainly hopes I will. Two boys will be in 4-H next year, so that means I’ll need to “counsel” the younger one, and probably hold a “refresher course” for the older one. That is, unless someone has the good sense to stop me.
In honor of this interesting year, I hereby propose a pledge for 4-H mothers: We pledge our head to clearer thinking, to keep from giving all that unsolicited advice; our hears to greater loyalty, to stay out of our children’s way as they learn the good and bad of competition; our hands to larger service, like working in the food stand, or covering our mouths while children show their projects; and our health to better living, which will surely improve if we won’t get so stressed-out at the county fair.
All said and done, our first year of 4-H was a success. Brent says, “I can’t wait to do it again!”
Neither can I.