I’ve talked a lot about responsibilities, and parents not doing so much for their kids in 4-H. Therefore, I must stay true to my word. Even with a special-needs child, I try to allow him to do as much as he can, and even fail at times, for the sake of learning.
However, I didn’t consider how hard this would be when it comes to grandkids. Not that we’re at 4-H age yet, but the oldest, Ezra is 4. For two years he has shown a goat in Peewee Showmanship. Both years he’s won first place in his age division, even beating 4-year-olds when he was 3.
The kid isn’t afraid of animals whatsoever. It’s also a plus that he loves dirt — in various forms. Poop doesn’t hinder him; neither do tall fences. He gets right in there with as much gumption and enthusiasm as his little body can muster.
Born to show
At last summer's show, during the hottest hour of the day, Ezra came marching through the barn in his new Levis, boots, checkered button-up shirt and a shiny new belt buckle. He asked with great excitement, “Mimi, where’s my goat?” He was ready to reclaim his title. He wanted a goat, any goat. Give him the leash and he’s off and going, stopping to set up legs and then starting all over again.
TRUE SHOWMAN: The author’s grandson Ezra loves goats, whether it's kidding season or showing season.
His first year to compete, most kids in his category were crying, standing still or looking like they were afraid to move. Not Ezra — he not only led his goat out into the middle of the arena, but was also yelling at me to make sure I was watching.
He waved to the crowd. He walked his squatty goat around in circles and talked to the judge about who knows what. When all was said and done, even when he went up against the winner in the 4-year-old division, Ezra was living it up, walking away with a trophy and a pocket full of ribbons. The only bad part of his day was that he didn’t get to go back into the ring … until this past summer.
He looked like the pro again. He walked his goat in, set the legs up, was the only one to even touch the goat, and went on and on with the judge about his “piggy goat,” which was actually a pygmy goat.
Double the fun
We’re in the middle of kidding season now. Baby goats are available to hold, feed and cuddle. It’s a great training ground for Ezra. His younger brother, Isaiah, will be able to join in the showing this year now that he’s 3.
I’ll have two adorable little boys walking their goats around, babbling on to the judge about who knows what. I’m not sure if shy Isaiah will have the same crowd-winning personality in the arena as his brother, but the two sure do love animals, and I sure love that they love them.
Now I’m going to have to preach to myself in the coming years. I know that winning isn’t always necessary. Failing has value, hard word is part of life, and even if they’re perfect grandkids to me, to the rest of the world, they aren’t always going to be perfect.
How good it is that these things in life come back full circle. These are simple, good, family-oriented and life-lesson-filled things that have taken place in our barns for generations.
McClain writes from Greenwood.