While I lament my age on a regular basis — of course, wanting to be younger — I have to say that at this time of year, I’m glad I’m not 10 anymore.
The reason I’m so relieved? I don’t have the stress of getting all my 4-H projects finished in time for the fair.
As county fairs are now here and happening, I think about the youngsters (and their parents) who have been feverishly putting together the last minute touches on all those entries.
D-Day is here.
I remember the last days leading up to the fair and all the stress that came with them. Seams to sew (and tear out as I cried), biscuits to burn, heifers to scrub.
I remember not being able to sleep at night because I so fretted over making the deadline.
Of course, it didn’t help that my siblings and I were involved in so many different programs and had taken it upon ourselves to create such a variety of things.
I have no idea how my mother put up with it all. She had a million kids to raise and plenty of regular work to do . . . while still watching over our wastebasket decorating, green bean picking, poster painting and picture gluing.
She let my father take care of the livestock projects — but she still had to make sure we somehow ended up with spotless, white show clothes.
Then, on top of all that, she had to always haul buckets of sloppy joes and all kinds of other food she didn’t have time to make . . . which would be sold in the concession stand when our 4-H group took its turn.
Uhh. Makes me tired thinking about it. Throw in the typically hot August weather and the fact my mother was usually pregnant and swollen . . . a 4-H nightmare.
After weeks of tears and frustration, the day would finally come to wrap things up and haul them into town. I remember, even at 10, second guessing myself . . . were the tomatoes the same size?
Was my dashiki trim on straight?
Were all the halters and combs and styling paraphernalia in the show box?
We’d stand in line with the other 4-Hers, anxiously waiting to enter our goods . . . just to be judged by invisible adults who would leave either gracious or critical comments behind, along with a corresponding ribbon for all to see.
If you were good, everyone knew you were a success! And if your stuff was a mess, everyone knew you were a failure.
After we crossed the line of no return, I’d sigh because while apprehensive, it was too late to change anything even if I wanted to.
We’d spend the next few days modeling clothes and showing cattle . . . and having a marvelous time with our friends. Because we all seemed to live in the depths of nowhere, this was that one special time that the country kids got to hang out together.
Eventually, we’d see the results of our work displayed for the world and find out if they were any good or not. But despite all the self-inflicted dread, I remember loving those last days of summer. While I don’t ever want to go back to doing all that, I’m glad I did.
I think we learned a lot about the importance of hard work, discovering skills and receiving constructive criticism.
Good luck, kids, as you embark on your county fairs and all that comes with it!
Remember to enjoy, relish the moments because this will be a week of memories that will last a lifetime . . . even if some of them make you happy to never be 10 again!