Thursday, April 18, 2013

Pig Project

As a parent, sometimes I've found that I didn't grasp the entirely of a situation until I saw it through my children's eyes. That often came later, and so it was with the summer of the "pig project" that led up to our county fair. In making the decision to allow my son to get involved, I didn't realize to the extent I was imposing on Lauren. Had I, I'm not sure I would have allowed Colin to enroll in the project. In the end, what they gained was not what I expected. What follows is the account by my daughter, through her eyes, as written for her English class. At the time my son was 11 and Lauren was 14 years old. 

Miss Piggy, Colin's 4-H swine project 2006
For four months Colin and I had raised those stupid pigs. Feeding them morning and night, spraying them down in the summer, and walking them each morning. Strike that, I fed them morning and night and hosed them down in the summer heat. Colin simply walked them with me. Hours upon hours of working with those two pigs in hopes that the coveted blue ribbon would soon be hanging from their pens come August. But it wasn't meant to be, my pig received 8th place and depression set in for the rest of the day. 

Now small children in small green 4-H hats milled around the show ring. Camcorders in hand, parents gleefully watched their children and crossed their fingers that they wouldn't mess up. 

Colin stuck out like a sore thumb the way he guided his pig around the ring as our sister, Kelsey, kept close behind him, helping only when necessary. His slanted, Down syndrome eyes squint as he smiles, but he was careful not to lose sight of Miss Piggy in the mass of hogs in the ring. Kelsey followed in his wake as they crossed in front of the judge and once he spotted Colin he couldn't take his eyes off of that out of place, goofy, little boy.

Colin is his 4-H attire after showing Miss Piggy

Colin and the judge locked eyes and Colin gave the judge a toothy grin and a thumbs up. By then the whole crowd had stopped looking at their sons and daughters and were watching Colin, and the sight of the small Down syndrome boy giving such a large man that gleeful thumbs up. 

The crowd of hogs slowly thinned and soon Colin and Miss Piggy were one of two other pairs. The judge grasped the microphone and spoke of the third place contestant and then gave Colin a wink and thumbs up and announced that Colin and Miss Piggy had received 2nd place in their class.

 


This was an amazing experience for everyone in the pavilion. The crowd was transfixed on the judge waiting for the outcome. When he announced the second place winner the stands erupted in applause for the little boy and his pig. There was not a dry eye in the house as Colin stepped forward to receive his ribbon.

In that moment, I was so proud of Colin, the judge, the 4-H program, our swine leader, and the folks in our county. I was especially proud of our girls, for without them Colin would not have been in the show ring. Our only direction to Kelsey was that she make sure Colin and his pig didn't interfere with the other children in their efforts to show their animals to their best ability. He showed that pig like a champ, and won the hearts of all those in attendance in the process.

However, the credit for this moment really belonged to Lauren. That sweet girl had worked daily for four months, often trying to get a reluctant brother to cooperate, to prepare both pigs for those few minutes in the show ring. She not only cared for the pigs, but she schooled Colin on how to walk the pig using the guiding show stick. In the eyes of the crowd the win may have been Colin's, but in truth the greater victory went to Lauren.

Belatedly, thank you, Lauren, for your hard work the summer of the "pig project"! Your devotion and dedication to the pigs and Colin showed what an amazing young lady you are. Truly a blessing to your family and especially to your little brother!

2 comments:

  1. What a wonderful story! Lauren is awesome!
    Connie
    A to Z-ing to the end
    Peanut Butter and Whine

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  2. They are so precious. Reading this makes me miss my special needs brother. We didn't realize what a blessing he'd been to us all our lives until he passed away. When we're serving these precious ones, we are the recipients of the greatest rewards, even when we think it's the other way around.

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