Tuesday, March 9, 2010
Letting Kids In On The Fun
I can't believe my eyes.
I'm sitting four or five rows up in $20 "preferred seats" (actually, butt space on bleachers) at the National Professional Bull Riding Association's rodeo in Kingsville, Texas. I'm surrounded by Texans, whole families of Texans, whoopin' and hollerin,' clapping, standing, pumping their fists in the air (and chugging down huge cups of beer).
I notice a darling little girl, about 6, decked out in pink -- a pink cowboy hat and pink chaps -- climbing on the fence, the only thing protecting her from those bucking, rocking, snorting bulls inside. Then I notice more kids, lots of kids, all looking like little cowhands and they're moseying on down toward that fence. The little boys wear black or plaid shirts, chaps and cowboy hats, just like their dads. The little girls look like their mommas, wearing cowboy hats, and vests, boots and belts all bedazzled in bling. Lots of bling. There are ribbons in their hair.
And then I see the darndest thing. Those moms and dads pick up their kids and drop them, DROP THEM like sacks of potatoes, over that head-high fence into the rodeo ring, that place where seconds earlier angry bulls snorted, bucked and rocked. What are they thinking? Why, some of bigger kids scramble up and over by themselves.
Soon there must be a 100 miniature cowboys and cowgirls milling about inside that ring.
What I see next, drops my jaw.
Three calves, cute little things with bows on their tails, charge into the ring. And those 100 kids? Round and round they chase those baby cows. The kids work like cattle dogs, moving those calves, cutting them off from each other, all the while grabbing GRABBING for those bows on the little cow tails. The audience roars. It's bedlam in there. The calves kick, rock and buck and the kids dart, duck and charge.
It doesn't take long, maybe three minutes, before three kids secure the treasured golden rings of calf chasing. For their efforts? They get $5. Enough for a pony ride.
The kids pant, gleefully, as they climb back over the fences to where moms and dads retrieve them.
I gawk, still, at what I've just seen. And then applaud. Because no one stopped all the fun, worrying that it might be too dangerous. No one stopped the fun. Thank goodness, no one stopped the fun.