Saturday, September 14, 2013

When is fun not fun anymore?

The last few days we have been excited about the event we were going to take H to. Mutton Bustin was supposed to be just a laid back, lets give it a shot, have a little fun. I still believe in my mind that out of the 13 riders there was about 9 of those who felt the same way. Each parent eager and excited to give their child an opportunity to try something different and fun. Most of the kids were boys two of them however were little girls. H was not the youngest either there was a 2 year old and he was about as thrilled to do this as H was. 
They packed us down in the small area each child given a hockey helmet and a giant zip up vest. I actually didn't think the vest would phase him as he wears a weighted vest, however he was not a huge fan. The helmet was not an issue until he just started becoming overwhelmed. 12 kids all standing around waiting their turn. You might ask what happened to child number 13 no my child didn't back out we wouldn't let him! the 13th child came down with a bag as big as he was, flashy blue metallic chaps and of course a freshly pressed fancy bright blue Wrangler button down shirt. The kid was 6 and apparently had sponsors. You could see it in the parents eyes their kids didn't stand a chance!  Did we tell our kids that? No we kept encouraging them and telling them how awesome they were going to do. 
After a long wait we were escorted out to the arena. I know for me it was a blur. I was standing back near another mom camera in hand waiting for my boy to exit the chute. His name was announced and over all the talking I could hear my boy screaming. At this point his boots had been kicked off and about 4 mean along with Chris and another man all around him. We both agreed no matter what he was doing this. Our friend Richard was standing there holding H by his sides. The chute opens and out he goes. I was blocked by so many I was unable to see a thing. I did see Richard however, with H in hand guiding him through the air. I guess his sheep took a giant leap out of the gate and rather than having H take a big fall he held him to prevent the fall. That is about what we had expected. 
Around that time one of the officials looked at me and said he did good, he was young and that next year he would probably last longer. I told him this might be a one time only deal, that our son was on the Autism spectrum and that this might be to much of an anxiety deal. I made mention though of how many kids on the spectrum actually come out here and participate in this though right?! He cocked his head to the side and said "Well your right not many if any kids on the spectrum come out here and do this." He went on to tell me he was on the Chair Committee for North Texas Autism Speaks! Really what are the odds? He was thrilled to see us and him doing this. 
Out of the 13 riders at least 2 didn't ride at all 8 held on but didn't make it but a foot or two outside the gate. The two year old had about as much fun as H did however he hit the ground right out and was very unhappy. The two boys we saw wearing chaps did well they made it a few feet outside the gate. The last rider was the 6 year old boy with the whole fancy get up. Suddenly this went from fun to heavy hitting competition. The parents exchanged glances we all knew what was about to happen. I felt bad for the parents of the older kids because they would realize right off what was about to happen. 
Of course being the good sports we adults are we cheered for the little boy. He rode down to the end of the arena and as he rode back he did something that bordered the line of talent and showboating unsportsmanlike conduct. That is about the time you could hear the older kids muttering the words show off and how they knew he would win. That boy sat up on the sheep and acted if he was riding a horse. He looked cocky and proud. His dad was cheering and the announcer was dropping subtle hints that he was done riding and could get off. 
The kids were told to await their prize but most of the parents begun to walk off they all knew their kid was not in the top 3. Though at that moment they mentioned a check to the first place winner. REALLY?! These kids are 7 and under! A CHECK?! What ever happened to a little friendly competition a trophy, a medal or in this case a belt buckle?? I know H does not grasp that concept like we do but I sure do know that most of those other kids there did. I could see their frustration and disappointment in their faces as they realize they never stood a chance and that this was not a friendly competition. 
There was one other family that seemed to be taking this very seriously also. Suddenly I felt on a the reality show where those crazy stage moms drag their daughters and sometimes their sons to these pageants doll them up and demand they win the big cash prize. Instead of being on Toddlers and Tiaras I was now on the show Toddlers and Rodeo Dad's! It was sad. 
I am all about some good healthy competition just like the next family. Heck my girls figure skated competitively for years at the recreational level and won trophies and medals.It was considered the professional level if you were paid for your performance. So are we out of our minds in being in utter disbelief when I saw the dad harassing one of the workers about the check his son earned? Am I out of my mind in thinking that maybe this is a first and a last for us? We want things to be fun for our son. We don't care about the place he gets but just the experience that he is getting from it. 
What happened to letting kids be kids and letting them have fun? Why does it have to be such an emphasis on winning and losing? I guess I might be the only one in this but I seriously am disturbed by what happened last night!