Thursday, July 28, 2011

4-H Really Does Build Character

I know just how much parents love it when people who don't have children offer parenting advice, so here comes some. Get your kids into 4-H.

I judged Arts and Crafts for the County Fair this morning and I was so impressed with the young people I met. I was in 4-H when I was a kid and remember it being a great experience. This is the first time I've been on this side of the equation.

They'll probably never let me do it again because I talked to every kid way too long. If they would talk to me at all - and almost all of them did - I asked them about every project, how they made it, why they chose that color/fabric/whatever. I doled out Blue Ribbons generously, and a good sprinkling of purple ones too.

It was obvious in some cases that Mom and/or Dad were very involved. However, in others it was clear the kids were doing it all. In one case I mentioned to these adorable sisters, both with long braided ponytails, that I could tell they had made their own projects. Mom, who was nearby with the baby in the stroller, and two others between him and the girls I was talking to, piped up and said, "Yes, I'm not in 4-H." As I looked at the 8-10 projects spread out in front of me from her two older girls, and three more behind them, I thought she might not be in "in" it, but she was in it. They were a great family. The girls were so excited by their ribbons. I gave one of them a purple and watched her sister congratulate her. Genuinely. It was so sweet.

Anyway, I left feeling pretty good about the future.

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