I was at a country fair, and oh how I love those. Seriously, if you read sarcasm into that, you’re reading it wrong.
In order to suck the full marrow from this one, I walked through a corn maze, pet two really long snakes, rode on a hay bale in the back of a tractor trailer, looked really hard for the line to the funnel cakes, and signed up my 4-year-old for mutton busting.
If you know what mutton busting is, you’re probably already laughing. I knew mutton meant sheep. But the busting part I was less clear on. I’d seen Little House on the Prairie quite a bit in my day, though, so I pictured something like the greased pig contest. Baby lambs, covered in something gooey, while little children chased them around, and we all laughed and little lambs were tortured for our pleasure.
Little did I know, the mutton were not going to be the tortured part of mutton busting.
I signed Jake up, and he was “in the hole” right away, which meant – second in line. They put the first kid on the sheep, which was decidedly not a lamb, in this gate thing you see here – just like the wild broncos at a rodeo. Then they strapped a helmet on the kid, and the dad said, “Lie down, Son, and wrap your arms really tight around the sheep’s neck.” I felt a little – um – concerned at that point. Then they opened the gate, and concern shot out of me with the gale force of the terror shooting in. The sheep shot out of the gate like we’d all been poking it with sticks. The child FLEW off its back and onto the ground where the sheep proceeded TO TRAMPLE HIM. I am only exaggerating in the sense that the child was never hospitalized and there were no signs of internal bleeding. You can look up mutton busting on You Tube now if you’d like. And if you think you didn’t know what mutton busting was, imagine my poor unsuspecting child knowing even less.
Don’t worry. It ended well. And by well I mean this picture in which Jake screams in pain and terror because he got pinched by the buckle on his helmet. Soon after this, picture him clawing his way up the metal fencing and into my arms. His mutton busting career was over before it even began.
Now, this is the part you won’t believe. I mean you really won’t believe it. But I was bummed that he’d been pinched. I didn’t want him flying off a sheep and getting trampled. I didn’t. But I also hated the fact that the chance to try something was ruined for him by a painful little mishap. I returned to my senses about three children later when not a single one had come up from the dirt without bursting into tears. I did see one kid near the end come up without crying. He’s my cousin’s son, from Wyoming. I got a picture of him bouncing up from the fall, and the sheep is nowhere to be seen. That’s how fast they were moving.
I thought of this story because I’ve been thinking about living in our lives, embracing them. I have a lot of thoughts on it. But this one is the funniest, and the only one that puts my children in direct harm. I just can’t wait to ask Jake someday what made him madder, the pinch or the reality of what I almost made him do.