I have always heard it said, but I never knew if it was completely true or not. But when little girls want something bad enough, the puppy eyes and whimpers really do get poured on their daddies.
Our daughter Elsie has developed a recent obsession with pigs showing after she accompanied me to the recent Yazoo County Livestock Show. It was a world completely unfamiliar to us. Granted, I had animals around me on family farms, and Jason helped raise cows for most of his life. But when it comes to showing them in a professional sense, the Patterson family doesn’t have a clue.
Dressed in her most western-looking shirt that she could find, Elsie was up at the crack of dawn when I told her that I was going to the show. I figured she would pet a few lambs, admire a few cows and maybe help feed a couple of pigs. But our local 4-H families are some of the best people around, and they took her in like one of their own.
Within minutes, Elsie was in the pig pen with the 4-H families, brushing pigs. When she went missing for a moment, I found her washing pigs. And when the show concluded, she was running behind a whole group of pigs, who were about as big as her, helping to load them into trailers.
The bug had hit. Elsie decided right then and there that she wanted to show pigs.
“We don’t need a pig,” I said, on the way home that day. “You barely take care of your cat. And we travel a lot. Who is going to take care of a pig while we are gone?”
Elsie had a plan that involved suckering one of her grandmothers into converting an old barn into a pig pen. She had a list of arrangements, calling on aunts and uncles, to help when we traveled. She even dumped her piggy bank out when we got home and started counting pennies.
I agreed that I would take her to some other shows but only as a spectator. We were not going to enter the pig-showing world.
That night, Elsie left a note for me on the kitchen counter. And so it begun…
“The name of my pig is Breezy,” the note read. “And it is going to be pink. And I will be in the livestock next year, and I am going to win a prize. I will practice with Mr. Bubba and them.”
“Mr. Bubba” is Bubba Vandevere, whose family is what I consider experts in livestock showing. I sent them a text with a picture of the note, shared a few laughs and thought that would be the end of it.
But the next morning at church, when our preacher asked for prayer requests, Jason had to practically hold Elsie down.
“Tell him to pray for me to get a pig,” she whispered.
That night at home, Elsie literally sat at Jason’s feet whimpering and pleading for him to buy her a pig. After two hours, Jason said, “we’ll see.”
“No, there ain’t no ‘we’ll see,’” I reminded Jason, as we got ready for bed. “She is not getting a pig. You buy her a pig and see what will happen.”
The following weekend, Elsie stood at the foot of my bed as the sun came up. After a few cups of coffee, we were on our way to Jackson for the district livestock show. And Elsie was in her happy place again, inside a pig pen. She helped brush some pigs, wash pigs, feed pigs. She even asked our local 4-H families a million questions, which they all answered. We were finally able to get out of there five hours later, with her whining the whole way home, claiming that we left too early.
And…the next weekend; it was another livestock show. And, we were there. Only this time, it was freezing, and there were hundreds of more pigs. Our Yazoo families weren’t moving and shaking as much because there were so many people in line to show.
And as the temperatures remained pretty frigid, Elsie looked over at me and announced that she was ready to go home. This time, we only lasted two hours.
I had achieved victory. This livestock bug had moved on. There would be another hobby she is interested in soon enough. For a few days, there was no mention of a pig. And I thought…I had passed this phase.
But as I shifted through a few papers at my desk the next afternoon at work, Elsie came into my office with a tiny box, covered in stickers and tinsel. Assuming she made me a homemade craft, I eagerly opened it up, expecting a card or stick person.
“The best gift is a pig,” was scribbled on a note inside the box.
I just laid my head on my keyboard. I am still the loser in this battle. Elsie may not have a clue about proper pig showing, but she is an expert in showing a lot of heart.