I finally decided I would attend the board meeting, and my children agreed to stand beside me holding up the projects they had been working so hard on.
The meeting time approached and I was a nervous wreck. Why was I even trying this crazy stunt? They had never allowed late entries before. Why would they allow us in this time?
When we walked into the meeting, and I immediately wanted to turn around and go home. The room was filled with weather worn ranchers and ranchers' wives. They eyed me suspiciously.
I introduced myself to the president, tall and graying, dressed in work boots and head to toe denim, topped with a cowboy hat.
When I told him who I was and why I was there with my children, he said with a slow drawl, "Young lady, you're welcome to address the board, but it won't do any good."
I tried desperately not to let the children see that I already felt defeated.
The meeting opened and the president introduced us and we walked to the front. I was shaking. My voice was unsteady.
I began my story of how I had overlooked the new rule of including w-9 forms with the paperwork turned in for entry into the county stock show. I placed all the blame on myself, and pleaded with them not to punish the children for my mistake. I pointed out the quilts and dresses they were holding up that they had already completed in anticipation of showing them.
I looked out onto a sea of stoic faces. The president was looking down solemnly at a paper he was holding, arms crossed.
I finished by asking them to please make an exception to the "no late entries" rule and allow us to participate. I thanked them for allowing me to address them and the children and I filed out.
When we got to the van, I told the kids it didn't go well and we probably wouldn't get to participate. They already knew. "At least you tried, Mama," one said as we drove away silently.
I wondered if I should have just accepted defeat. Why was I asking for special favor? Why did I think my children deserved an exception?
The fact is that I knew the mistake was mine, and I hated to think of my children fulfilling all the obligations that were required of them, even going above and beyond what was required, and then being penalized because I had overlooked a new requirement.
And I knew if I didn't go to bat for them, stand in the gap for them when they couldn't ask for favor themselves, that no one else would do it. What kind of mother would I be if I didn't ask for my children not to be punished for my mistake?
I felt at peace knowing I had done all I could to fix my mistake. All I could do was ask. Now we would wait to hear the answer, but we all felt like it would be "no."
That's why we all whooped and hollered and were knocked off our feet with surprise when we got the phone call the next day that the board had voted, after much debate and discussion, to allow late entries for the first time in its history!
We will be participating in the county stock show, and my children will get to show their quilts, dresses, goats, art work, and all the rest of the projects they have been working diligently on!
We are absolutely thrilled!
We have learned some important lessons during this trial:
- Mom should inquire as to any new requirements in paperwork before the deadline.
- It never hurts to ask.
- You catch more flies with honey than with vinegar.
- Mom is a child's most important and powerful advocate.
- You never know what can be accomplished until you try.
- Burly men in weathered cowboy hats can still have tender hearts.