If you were to ask me the top things that I dislike in life (only pertaining to myself and not having to do with slavery, hunger, etc.) I would state the following: hiking uphill, being cold, critical people, competition, and arguing.
Seeing how I hail from Alaska and married a mountain climber, the first two are unfortunate, but I've managed to cope and wear long underwear. Critical people, I've learned to spot a mile away and shamelessly run. My family knows that mommy doesn't compete, even when we play games, so we play them nicely. "I'm sorry I had to send you home but that was the only move possible," is commonly heard. As for arguing, a kind answer truly does "turn away wrath".
Unfortunately, my children not only did not inherit my particular set of dislikes but they claim their own. Which makes for an interesting dinner table. They also possess their own particular likes that don't always parallel my own. Take, The Three Stodges for example. But I endure. Rowan, in particular, is passionate about things that I have a hard time getting excited about. He's a huge history buff, he collects instruments (and plays them), he wants to be president so he loves politics, he is constantly asking questions and debating my answers. But I love him. Love every freckle on his little nose. So I try.
Several weeks ago he asked if he could be on a debate team. I told him I'd look into it and contacted someone in charge of our area's speech and debate team for home school students. She said the best way to be introduced to their team was to come to the speech and debate competition, and since I was going, would I judge at it? (!!!) Every freckle, every freckle...so I say yes.
This my friends, is how I end up with so many stories. I say yes with NO INFORMATION.
Thursday morning, Rowan and I go to the school where the competition was being held at 7:15 am. I am told I will judge a debate on US trade policies with China. I will be the only judge and will pick a winner and rate the speakers from best to last. I try not to cry. You may realize that I just entered into a world in which the last three things on my list are first and foremost. I have to criticize people. I have to engage in a competition and listen to people argue (don't tell me debating is different). Not to mention: TRADE WITH CHINA. Which I know nothing about, nor have a any desire to know anything about.
I come in the room and sit at a table with the person who is timing on one side and Rowan on the other. I have a ballot in front of me. Each team has two contestants and they all come and shake my hand. Then one guy speaks up and asks, "We would like to know the extent of your judging experience and what you want to see today."
This my friends, is raw. Everything I've just written here flashes through my brain but all I say is, "I have no experience." Then I answer the second part of his question 'what do you want to see.' I refrain from the truth, which is, I want to see my bed and a cup of tea, and answered, "I want to see clear points with good support." God help me.
The debate is over. Everyone shakes hands. My eyeballs hurt. An hour and ten minutes of my life has passed. Rowan and I go to the judge's room and he tells me how to fill out the ballot and who won. He has clear points with good support. He says, "I love this Mom. I can't wait to do this." Every freckle, every freckle...
I then went on to judge literature interpretation which took two hours. The kids who performed weren't arguing and most of them made me laugh so that wasn't so bad. One of them made me cry, she got first place.
I came home five hours later laughing and thoroughly exhausted. How stuffy and confined I'd be if it weren't for my husband and children. They have stretched the borders of what I think and do until I almost don't recognize my own inheritance. The love I have for them is always growing, and in its expansion, I also expand. This isn't always comfortable but it's so worth it.
And if I'm going to enter the world of debating, I need to find the equivalent of long underwear.