Show Mom Diaries: Tears in the bathtub

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I was in our 2-year-old daughter’s room, dressing her in her Hello Kitty PJs for the evening, when I heard that all-familiar sound to a mother’s ears, echoing from the bathtub: sobbing.

Now, when you’re a parent, you know that sound could mean a variety of things. Shampoo in the eyes. A broken toy. Or very rarely, a real concern needing immediate attention. I figured I should check it out.

Entering the bathroom led to the discovery of our 5 year old in the midst of a real, heart-wrenching, alligator-tears meltdown.

click image to zoomChristy Lee, HerefordChristy LeeOur two boys are night and day in the personality department. But we're hoping to have found a common ground in the motivation and personal rewards of the show cattle projects this year. The reason? His 8-year-old brother is old enough to show the heifers and steer this year through 4-H and the National Junior Hereford Association (NJHA). And he’s not.

(And why this revelation hit him during the middle of an ordinary, weekday bath? Well, your guess is as good as mine.)

I’ll admit. The sight of him in this condition broke this “momma heart” a bit. I wrapped him in a towel and headed to the living room so we could chat. We discussed the fact that both boys’ names are on the registration papers. That he’s an integral part of the daily wash-rack and feeding routines. Even big brother offered a few words of encouragement – which was a complete demonstration of the family’s level of concern over the matter.

It was obvious – my husband and I needed to think of something. And quick.

It’s funny how two children can be raised in the same home, with the same parenting methods, but possess personalities of polar-opposite proportions. Our boys are living proof.

Waylon, our 8 year old, is the studious type. He loves his books, video games and movies. Showing cattle is something that he is attempting because mom and dad have encouraged it.

After his first year in the NJHA, he’s excited for the shows this year. But his excitement stems from seeing his friends and competing in the speech and photography contests. The cattle are a nice little side benefit. A means to an end, so to speak.

But Nolan loves the livestock as much as the people. Nothing brings him more joy than pulling on his barn boots after school and venturing to the barn to check on his animals. Homework and studying and school? They just get in the way of the important work to be done outside.

In order to motivate Waylon to complete the day-to-day activities on the farm, and to provide Nolan with a sense of ownership in the cattle project, my husband and I have decided to begin a chore chart for the barn.

We are tailoring the chores to the boys’ ages. Waylon will be responsible for washing, blowing, brushing and practicing showmanship each day – all with the assistance of mom and dad, of course. Nolan will have chores more suited for a kindergartener, including checking water tanks, haying the cattle and assisting with feeding.

Our hope is that Waylon will take pride in checking off his accomplishments for the day (playing off his scholastic side), and Nolan will be excited to have important jobs of his own (giving him ownership).

It all sounds good in theory, right? I’ll let you know how it goes.

And I’d love to hear from you! What tricks or tips do you have on providing encouragement for daily chores, and for providing ownership for younger siblings, ready to be in the ring?

Please leave your best advice in the comments below. We’re in this together. So let’s help each other out!  

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Alberta  |  March, 18, 2014 at 10:41 AM

Involve Nolan as much as you can in any showing/fitting demos, at least as an observer. NEVER came across a showman who didn't have time for a young enthusiast. Bite the bullet, choose a baby heifer calf for him this spring, halter break it if at all possible. He can watch her grow and develop, practice show skills, help choose the breeding, anxiously await the calf. By the time that is complete he may be close to participation age. One downfall, it invariably seems your child's animal will be the one to have problems! ? Our daughter was in the same predicament at 5. At age 10, before we realized what she was up to, she had haltered our breeding bull in the middle of the summer on pasture, pulled him to the barn and washed him. Her response when we asked her why, 'he likes it'. We're not sure who really enjoyed it more! Enjoy your show journey, if you enjoy it too, the bond you develop is unbelievable,

Hawaii  |  March, 18, 2014 at 11:52 AM

Get him a goat!!

KC Kinder    
OKC  |  March, 18, 2014 at 03:40 PM

Get him a mini Hereford. Give him a job like using a rice root brush to brush the hair down so his brother can work it forward. Little feed buckets so he can help feed. Let him show at a county fair, maybe even a pig of someone's. Buy him a bucket calf and enter at county fairs? Any of this helpful:)

Singing Coyote Ranch    
Floresville, TX  |  March, 18, 2014 at 08:38 PM

Raise Reg. Texas Longhorns, your children may show as any age.... yes any age. Owning them are so rewarding. Wish you and your family the best.

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