I haven’t been to the Easter Show for years, partly because I don’t like crowds, partly because it’s so expensive and partly because I never get to just look at the things I want to see – I’m always holding someone’s bag, standing in queues for food, rushing through the craft or cakes because everyone else is bored or waiting while the kids choose a showbag.
This year I solved all of that by going by myself.
First port of call was to catch up with mum who has found herself working (as a volunteer) on the CWA Cafe since 3 days before the show actually opened (she’s on the committee and with that comes all the ‘setting up’ responsibility). We had a quick lunch, then I plunged off into the crowds.
I had 3 goals in mind for the day. I wanted to look at the regional produce displays, the cake decorating and the pigs. Distracted slightly by the stalls selling chocolate, chilli, roasted nuts, herbs & spices and wine, I nevertheless managed to see those 3 and a whole lot more. I love that the show, in spite of all of the distractions is still an agricultural event and is a major stop in the competition schedule for lots of activities. All the ribbons and awards are proof of that. A cow or pig that has won ‘best in show’ is bound to be worth more in money and/or prestige than your ordinary run-of-the-mill animal.
By accident, I found myself spending a lot of time among the horses. I’m not really a horse person, I fairly quickly grew out of the typical young girl’s obsession with horses, with perhaps a lingering soft spot for Clydesdales.
There are a lot of horse pavilions at the Easter Show and perhaps because it was actually the Easter weekend, there was a lot of activity, with (mostly) young girls dressed up in all the show-jumping and dressage gear, horses with fancy comb work on their rumps and plaited tails and weary looking parents and other entourage fetching, carrying, snatching sleep in uncomfortable looking chairs and feeding the troops.
It was this that reminded me of a water polo tournament. (Ironically, most water polo players will tell you that if they had a dollar for everytime someone said ‘but how do you get the horses in the water?’ they’d be rich – but at the time this didn’t come into my thinking.)
A high level water polo tournament is 4 or 5 days of milling about, waiting for your (or usually your child’s) game, ensuring you get rest/food/sunscreen sorted out at the right time, chatting with other parents (and assorted entourage) in a peculiar language that is only decipherable to other water polo types, sitting for hours in uncomfortable chairs, refilling water bottles, getting the towels dry in a motel room at night and so it goes on. You catch up with other parents you only ever see once a year at this particular tournament, or chat with parents you meet at every weekly game. I recognised all of this in the activity going on in the horse pavilions and I felt at home, even though all I know about horses is that they have 4 legs, one end bites and the other has a tail…
I think any parent with a child who competes at anything would have felt at home, water polo is just what I know about. Bookworm’s close friend has just returned from a 2 week hockey tournament in Brisbane and instantly recognised what I was saying when I told her this story. I have friends who spend days at gymnastics tournaments, swim meets (I’ve actually done plenty of these 2 myself as well!), fishing and archery competitions.
Letting go of stuff as my kids grow older is challenging for me. My water-polo-tournament-parent days are over, but I did enjoy the sneak peek at horse-tournament-parenting.