We practiced for an entire week. Noah would climb up Dad’s back while Dad hunkered down on all fours. He’d find the perfect position and latch on with all his might while dad jumped and bucked and tried to throw him off. By the end of the week, Noah was holding on like the mutton busting champion we both new he was going to be when they announced the winner that weekend. There was very little that could shake this three year old.
Have you ever watched kids participate in the little Buckaroo Rodeos? They’re a riot.
Mutton Busting is where the kid rides unassisted on the back of a great big sheep and holds on as long as they can while the sheep freaks out and books it around the arena. Youtube it. It’s not for sissies. They have other awesome events at these competitions too, such as the greased pig chase (whoever catches the greased-down piglet gets to keep it, a real bonus for us suburbian parents who are all praying that our kid doesn’t even have a chance to touch it let alone catch it), the cash cow contest (a calf with ribbons tied all over it is let loose while dozens of kids attack it trying to pull the ribbons off which they’ll then turn in for prizes), and the chicken catch (if you can’t figure that one out on your own, you don’t have a country bone in you).
So, Dad did what any sensible dad would do and he went and got Noah duded up. New cowboy hat, new cowboy boots, new pair of Wranglers. When Noah walked up to receive his championship trophy, he needed to look the part. He was quite happy to be a cowboy, just like Dad always wished he was.
The big day finally arrived. Noah donned his gear and bellied up to the bar. “You gonna hold on the longest, Noah?” I asked him. Yeah, Dad, I’m gonna be the best cowboy! We went and signed a waiver which mentioned death and permanent injury at least 30 times, got his free t-shirt (worth every penny), and we were ready to go. Dad hung at the back of the arena with his monster pervert zoom lens and Noah’s mom and step-dad took him up to the launching point when his group was called. The moment was here. That sheep was going down.
At least it would have… if the kid that went right before Noah didn’t get tossed, trampled, and nearly killed by that stupid fleece wearing sister goat. After laying lifelessly for a few seconds, the poor kid stood up and started dragging his limping self off the field, bawling, making no attempt to “cowboy up” or be tough for all the other kid’s sakes.
Noah took one look at that kid, and suddenly mutton busting didn’t look so fun anymore. In fact, it looked like a quick way to a painful suicide. His step dad picked him up and attempted to put him on the sheep, but Noah’s little body went stiff as a board as he made sure that everybody there new he was not holding onto that sheep’s neck, and you couldn’t make him. A posse of cowboys tried to coax him and comfort him, but Noah was having none of it. They finally let him off the hook, and he very contently exited the sheep.
I sprinted across the arena and took him from his mom who at that point he was hugging on pretty fiercely. It was hard not to give the kid who got trampled a dirty look for ruining my kid’s shot at fame and fortune. In fact, he deserved it, the little wuss, so I went ahead and gave him a discrete death stare. I spent the next several rides trying to convince Noah, “see, that kid didn’t get hurt”, but it was to no avail. I tried bribing him first with one and then two gold dollars. That didn’t work. I told him we’d go buy a brand new toy if he could be brave enough to do it. Not even that worked. And that always works. I almost had him convinced when I told him I’d run along side the sheep and make sure he was okay.
But, he was done. The site of another kid’s face getting flattened into the dirt and gravel by 600 lbs of lamb chop had done it for him, and there was no erasing that image from his impressionable little mind. “It’s okay,” I told him. “We can try again next year.”
Grrrr… That should have been my kid being trampled.
Dan Pearce, Slightly Bitter Dad Single Dad Laughing
PS, do me a favor and if you thought Noah was a cute enough cowboy, share this story!