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October 21, 2014
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I’d have done it, too

Watching a Little Mr. & Miss competition is never boring; in fact, it’s often hilarious. I had the privilege of covering one at Poultry Days, two over the July 4 weekend and will likely be in the midst of the excitement when little ones compete at the annual Darke County Fair “Littles” pageant.

As Ken DeMange noted last month at the Little Miss Poultry Days pageant… “You never know what they might say, or do.” And you don’t. One contestant proved his point by telling everyone she didn’t like “Frozen” or its theme song, “Let it go.”

“I don’t like that,” she said. Over and over… especially when she and other ‘Littles’ were asked to sing and dance to the song.

During the Independence Day weekend, I saw a young man tromp up on the stage, the grinning conquering hero, then decided he didn’t want to talk. There was the young lady who named her puppy… Puppy; and another who named her goldfish Goldie. A 4-year-old soccer fan had no qualms about deciding the U.S. was cheated in the World Cup (or whatever that competition was).

I don’t think I’ll ever forget the 3-year-old who came dressed as a cowboy and put his lasso over the MC’s head, then his hat on it and leaned against her, grinning. He never said a single word.

Some kids know exactly what they want to be when they grow up… a construction worker who will build what he’s supposed to build, to the child who simply wants to be big, or a princess or a unicorn. One youngster, however, didn’t know what he wanted to be when he grew up or even what his favorite food was.

I saw some of these kids later at the parades. They looked a little more relaxed (in other words, ready for candy). They of course didn’t know me, but several kids from Woodland and East schools did.

“I thought that was you across the street,” said one youngster. I’d come over to her side and was starting to walk past her family when she called out. I knew her immediately. She was one of the kids who enjoyed giving me a hard time…

“You gave me a hard time at school, didn’t you?” I asked.

“Yep,” she said, grinning. Then gave my kneecaps a hug. I can’t remember everything we talked about, but she kept me occupied with questions and comments almost until parade time. If I remember right, she had a pretty good idea what Independence Day meant and why we were having a parade.

Then there’s the library. That institution of knowledge that seems like home to some and a foreign land to others. I meet with a few kids for an hour or two each week to help them fine-tune their reading skills. They have to read one or more books a week. Some are serious; some – like my Woodland student – love to give me a hard time.

One of my “kids” disappeared when my back was turned. I looked everywhere for her, even went outside to look. She was, after all, my responsibility until dad picked her up.

She’d been hiding under a table. Dad said, “Yeah, she does that all the time.”

I learned a new game over the past few weeks. It’s called “The different ways you can ride in an elevator.” Three 7-year-olds would lie flat on their backs, then on their tummies… finally on their stomachs with their feet pulled up behind them.

I don’t know which was funnier… the giggling kids or the expressions on the faces of adults who happened to be waiting for the elevator when the doors opened.

I just looked at them with this stupid grin on my face… a look that said, “Don’t ask!”

If I’d been 60 years younger I’d probably have done it, too.

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