We participated once again in the annual county fair. It was a week of long hours, daily driving, and hard work. Every day I packed up six children and spent long periods of time on the fairgrounds, keeping my baby happy and my toddler corralled while the older children swept barns, greeted guests, and showed their goods and knowledge. It wasn’t Disneyland. It was better.
We have tried to make the Disneyland trip happen, mostly for the sakes of grandparents who can’t understand our lack of urgency in taking our children to the “happiest place on earth”. But, perhaps thankfully, the trip never seems to work out, and so we are happy at home, instead.
Young adults in 4H or FFA are expected to behave as, well, young adults. They must dress nicely, and carry themselves with soberness. They must come prepared to meet the judges, and use humility in winning and graciousness in losing.
There is ample opportunity to learn real life skills. Skills needed to grow food, create raw goods, and practice discipline. Even for adults, there is no shortage of learning opportunities. And each one demands time away from entertainment gadgets and invested instead in equipment and people and practice. Much of it involves time outdoors, breathing fresh air and getting dirty.
The fair stokes possibilities and dreams. What would it be like to grow 80% of our own food (as we have friends well on the way to doing just that)? Could we grow our own bacon? If we need mittens and socks, can we knit them up ourselves? With the wool we sheared from our own sheep? There is no down side to providing good, wholesome chores and work for every child, and for every adult too, for that matter. Common goals unite a family.