Keegan: Mom, what are you doing?
Me: Coloring my hair.
Keegan: You mean you’re coloring your hair a different color?!?
Me: No silly, I’m just covering the grey.
Keegan: YOU have grey hair?!?
Me: Just a little.
Keegan: I cannot believe you have been tricking me! All this time I thought you were young! How old are you? Like 72?!?
This past Friday my oldest daughter auditioned for the Region Philharmonic Orchestra. She has been studying cello for the past 5 years. Last year she auditioned for the Region String Orchestra begrudgingly with out practicing and made the 13th chair out of 60 auditioners. The orchestra takes the first 14 chairs and the 15th becomes the alternate. After her weeks of whining and crying about not wanting to audition she now changed the focus of her whining and crying to “I can’t believe I was second to last! Next year I am actually going to practice so I can get a higher seat.” Well, she wasn’t really second to last. She was 13th out of 60. She was second to last of the kids who actually made it. It was a great experience and in the end she was thrilled, proud and felt honored to have had the chance to participate. This year, after another year of honors orchestra she was set to audition for the Philharmonic Orchestra, two steps up from the String Orchestra. This was also the year that we felt it was time to invest in her own instrument. She has been renting a cello from the school district up until now. As the date of auditions grew closer I would remind her, “I know you are practicing at school, but you really need to spend time practicing your region pieces at home on your own instrument, especially if you are going to audition on your cello.” She always had a reason she was too busy, she was going to get to it, don’t worry mom. I understand busy, I do. Most of us do. Mom of three, full time job, part time job in real estate…I get it.
Back to this past Friday. She did indeed audition. She was nervous, but she knew the music. To me, she sounded wonderful. But in the end, when the seats were rewarded she sat in seat number 15. Seat number 15 is that of an alternate. Unless something happens to one of the players in the first 14 seats, she will not participate this year in the Region orchestra. Yes, she was absolutely devastated. Believe me, we all were. This is a kid who wants to earn a scholarship in college for cello, as well as tennis, as well as academics. All fantastic goals, and as her parents we encourage her and support her in any way we can.
After getting a little perspective on this disappointment, as a parent I am a little grateful for this blow. Reagan does have a natural talent for cello, tennis and her studies. We are all blessed with individual gifts, and those are some of hers. But she tends to rely on natural talent. She didn’t put the work in that other kids did. It is important to learn, and the earlier the better, that you can come up with a number of excuses, but they don’t change the results or outcomes. So in our quiet discussion I asked her, “How many times did you practice your cello at home?” Her reply, “none” I just looked at her and said, ” Well my dear, natural talent will get you just so far….about as far as an alternate. If you want to hone your craft and become the best you can be, that requires work. The kids who put in the work are sitting in seats 1-14. So, you have to decide yourself, because I cannot decide for you and I certainly cannot put in the work for you, but are you going to be happy with being an alternate? Or are you going to put in the work to hone your craft and become the best you can be?”
Her response, “I better get working.”
Me- Gage! Please don’t put your soccer cleats on the table!
Gage (Keegan’s sleepover buddy) where should I put them?
Me- How about on the floor?
Keegan- Yeah, my mom is just that way. Yesterday I brought in one of the turkey chicks that died and was going to set it on the counter and she FREAKED out!
Yeah, I’m just that way.
Keegan! You room is a disaster!
I knoooooow! But it is toooooo haaaaaard!
OK, I understand, I’ll clean it for you.
Don’t mention it.
The Hill Country Animal League is very grateful for Keegan’s donation today. All those toys that were so hard to pick up will help buy lots of kitty and doggie food. You are a good man Keegan. I love you.
And so it begins! Every year our kids each tackle a project for 4H. For our oldest it is her 5th year. For those of you who have no idea what a 4H project is, the kids choose a project to compete with and sell at the Jr County Livestock Show in January. The animal projects are steer, lamb, goat, pig, turkey, or chicken. I will tell you that it is a great learning lesson in how to care for animals, how to manage a project, learning how to present oneself and your project in front of a panel of judges, and then market oneself and project at the end to the highest bidder. In the past the kids have raised meat chickens and last year Riley took a stab at a goat.
The kids have to be in the 2nd grade to participate up to the 12th. This will be Keegan’s first year, though he has helped his sisiters in the past. While he’ll raise chickens, the girls are trying their hand at turkeys. It is hard work. It is disgusting work. Birds are nasty, but the benefit of the poultry project is that in the end, you have organically raised meat to put in your freezer.
The projects are all encompassing. They monopolized the family from now until the second weekend in January. The birds have to be tended to multiple times a day. They require fresh water, fresh food, and fresh shavings constantly. You can’t take off over Christmas break unless you have someone that will be as dedicated to the project as the kids are or it could cost you placing at the show. The first year Riley the middle child joined Reagan I heard Reagan give her advice while teaching her how to turn the soiled shavings, ” Just keep telling yourself, money and dinner…money and dinner.”
After all of the hard work the kids get to take pride in filling the deep freeze with the best tasting poultry you will ever eat and they get to make a sizable deposit into their Scottrade Account. Yup, at the sale local businesses bid on these kids and their projects. The girls have brought home an average of $900.00 each year. All the money is deposited into their own Scottrade account where they watch their money grow.
So every year my husband and I say, UGH! Let’s not do this again! But we always do, and are glad we did.