My sister Kara sent me this photo of my nephew Josh showing his steer at the county fair. As you can see by the trophy, one almost as large as the Wimbledon trophy Raphael Nadal paraded around London yesterday, he did quite well for his first time. In fact, his showmanship efforts have already garnered him far greater awards than I ever received during the many years I showed sheep as a youngster.
In a way I'm grateful for that. Too many trophies would have surely meant another box of goodies to unload, repack and haul to the attic this past weekend. There's no doubt however it would have been amongst the few boxes of "keepers" I have left. Although I was never a champion showman like Josh, those fair days are definitely etched in my memory, which is what makes them important long after you forget where the trophies are.
I don't remember ever particularly liking the sheep I showed. I actually recall disliking them more than I ever liked them. But I remember how much I enjoyed it being a family project. My great-grandfather always helped me pick out the best lamb, if there really was such a thing. My mom and dad spent countless hours making sure I could get to 4-H meetings and to the county fair when the time came, often a couple of trips a day. When it came time to show the lamb, my whole family would be gathered to watch. I'm sure now that they were enjoying that experience far more than I. Probably most important, my grandfather spent the weeks leading up to the fair lobbying his coffee buddies to bid on my prized piece of mutton when sale time came, which usually resulted in an inflated sale price. I do remember enjoying the part about cashing that auction check.
I'm certain my parents supported and encouraged all of our interests because they knew they would all somehow influence who we would turn out to be. I guess I probably learned something about responsibility and the orginins of wool clothing by showing sheep, but more importantly, I learned the value of purposefully creating memories for your children. I'm certain I won't always get it right with our boys, but I do intend to continue the tradition of having good family memories.
Speaking of our boys. A dear friend of mine from North Carolina is not sold on this whole it's a boy thing. She has gone so far as to protest the current poll we're running to solicit input naming our boy. She insists there is sizable room for error in these ultrasound results. Seems all such results when she was a mere infant in the womb indicated she was going to be a he, and well.. she ended up being a she. I guess this entitles her to be a bit skeptical, but she didn't see the pictures and she didn't hear the ultrasound technician when she said "you've got a boy." The girl stopped just shy of handing us Pop Warner football applications and a Redskins jersey for the road.
Susan insisted that I add a girl's name to the poll, which I'm not going to do. I saw the pictures. I did tell her in the spirit of compromise that I would add a whole poll of girls' names when it comes time to pick Elliott's wife, which is fortunately a couple of years away.
We encourage you to sound off on your choice of names for Elliott's brother in the poll on the left side of this page.