As a Mom of two young boys, ages 8 and 11, one can imagine what our household sounds like most of the time. Our boys fight hard and love hard. They are extremely competitive, and everything usually ends up in an argument or something that resembles a hockey fight with shirts being pulled off of their backs. But yesterday, watching these boys show their rabbits at the Guadalupe County Youth Livestock Show, I saw a side of them I’ve never seen before and it was one of the proudest moments I’ve ever experienced as their mother.
This was our older son’s fourth year to show and our younger son’s first. They both had worked so hard on their rabbit projects, but the older one has a true passion for all things ag-related. The younger one isn’t quite as enthralled as his brother, but he’s getting there. It was a very long day and typically the kids get antsy and bored, but they stuck it out. I had strategically packed drinks, snacks, games, etc. to keep our youngest entertained, but he hardly touched them at all. Rather, he sat with a rabbit in his lap for most of the day and then took his spot next to his pens when it was time for his rabbits to be judged. He finished with 24th and 30th places in his class and made the sale.
Our older son just didn’t have the luck this year. Neither of his pens made the sale, and he was pretty defeated. I was really worried about him and his broken heart, but he showed us a side of himself that we had never really seen before. He wiped away his tears and stood by his little brother while his pens were being judged, helped him load everything up and lined up his rabbits for a photo. I couldn’t help but stand in awe of this boy, most kids would be sitting and pouting about a loss and, honestly, that’s what I expected of him.
When I told him that he could stay home for the sale or spend the night at a friend’s house, he said, “No, Mom, I want to go.” Later that night, the last round of judging took place with the fryer rabbits, to which judges only award ribbons and buckles to the Reserve and Grand Champion. These placings are not included in the sale, but both of our boys stood next to their pens side by side, after an already long day. And just like that, our oldest was named Grand Champion and received his belt buckle and leather banner. To see the joy in his eyes was something a mother always longs for, but what was even more inspiring was to watch him throughout that entire day. He may not have made the sale, but he showed his true colors in how he handled himself after a tough loss. And for us as his parents, this was one of the greatest lessons he could have ever learned.
These kids put their hearts and souls into their 4-H and FFA projects. They learn a great deal of responsibility and many other valuable lessons. It takes a lot to put these shows on and I am thankful for all of the parents, teachers, volunteers and organizations that support the youth of our community.
Elizabeth Engelhardt is the publisher for the Seguin Gazette. Her column runs every other week. You can e-mail her at email@example.com .