The first weekend of December we loaded up the kids, cattle and equipment and headed north to Indianapolis for the 27th Annual Beef Congress. This is our 8th consecutive year showing at this event, and while we never win anything, our goal has always been to have fun as a family. The Congress wears us out, but we never fail to accomplish this goal.
From the get-go – 10 years ago with the oldest – the kids were told they had a choice to show or not. But if they chose to show, they were also choosing to do the work required.
Every year they are asked the same question when it comes time to look for calves.
"Are you going to show this year? It is 100% your decision."
If they choose to show and we buy them a calf, they are only required to show at the county level, and they are also asked each year if they want to show at Congress.
This past weekend my husband Chris and I received compliments from several different people about the work ethic of our kids – these were huge compliments. We have always told our kids that while winning is fun, it isn't about the banner and ribbons. It's about the lessons you learn, the work ethic you develop and the friends you make along the way that will take you farther in life, last longer and serve you better 20 years down the road than a faded ribbon or banner hanging on the wall.
Along with the compliments, however, my oldest was at the receiving end of an off-handed comment wondering where her parents were, and why her and her brother and sister seemed to be doing the majority of the work.
She came to me upset. "Isn't it our job, Mom?" she asked. "They aren't paying attention if they think you and Dad don't do anything. You are the only reason we are able to do this!"
I love the fact that the kids choose to show every year but as I get older I also appreciate that they are capable of doing their own work. I have halter-broke, washed and fitted many calves over the past 10 years helping my kids. While I loved every minute of it, my ultimate goal was to teach them how to do these things.
I am always just a holler away when they need help, but ultimately in my mind this is their job. So while I am not positive that this off-handed comment was meant as a compliment, it made me smile and realize that I have accomplished something pretty important.