The Random Writings of Rachel: Family, Lunch, and the Fact That I Just Can't Win

Family, Lunch, and the Fact That I Just Can't Win

(Most recent partial family photo, missing at least 3 of us. I'm the one totally ignoring the black-and-white dress code)

Lunchtime. 
Pour drinks. Ice water spills. Run to the kitchen to grab a towel. Wipe it up.
Before we eat we have to pray. "Who wants to pray?"
Me! Me! Me! Dear Lord thank you for this food Amen.
Silence, blessed silence as food disappears.
"More rice and chicken?"
"Eat your vegetables first."
Ask what was learned in school this morning. 
She practiced long division. The other one read a book about the Killing Fields of Cambodia. The littles painted a picture of a zebra.
Random!
"Wanna hear a joke?"
"No."
Quick, grab a second helping of your favorite dish before the food runs out.
We tried to prevent it but the baby knocked over his bowl. Rice scattered. 
Get the broom.
"I had this crazy dream last night..."
Baby says, "I am SUPERMAN"
I don't know if superman spilled his bowl of rice instead of eating it.
Wait, make a plate for Dad, he's late. 
He'll be hungry when he gets home.
"I don't have to do dishes 'cuz I cooked."
Someone has to do them. If no one takes responsibility, they'll be crawling with ants on the kitchen counter within the hour.
"I am SUPERMAN!"
"When are we going to the p-o-o-l?"
Spell so that baby doesn't cry if the answer is no.
Laugh because we finally let her tell that joke and it wasn't funny at all.
Jokes invented by small children never are.
But we laugh anyway.
The chicken and rice and vegetables satisfy the hole of hunger created by the passing of morning hours.
Family eats lunch. Family cleans up lunch. Someone washes dishes, because someone has to.
Imagine, just imagine, eating alone.
Maybe the silence isn't so blessed after all.
"I am SUPERMAN!"

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My parents are the kind of parents who run and organize....everything. From my youngest days, I can remember them telling that that if I wanted to, I could enter the coloring contests or the Bible verse memory contests or reading contests or whatever kind of contest or event that they were involved in organizing at the moment....but I wouldn't be allowed to win, because I was related to the organizers. This was kind of depressing when the prize for the local coloring contest was a 3-foot long candy bar.

Their most recent organizational endeavor has been a month-long statewide writing competition where young people, ages 9-25 (there are three different categories, so, no, there aren't elementary school students competing against university students for the big prize), were encouraged to submit an essay/1-page piece of creative writing on the topic of "family appreciation." This contest was a part of our country's celebration of the UN's International Day of Families in the middle of this month.

As usual, I knew I was disqualified from any possible chance to win, but since I wanted to show support for my parents' hard work and since I'm still young enough to enter in the "under 25" age category, I submitted an entry. Since I figured the typical contest entry will start with something like "I appreciate my family because..."....and since I didn't have to worry about sticking to the prompt too closely since I'm disqualified anyway, I went a little outside the box with my own take of a free-form poem about lunchtime. Lunch, with too many people huddled around that table and just-enough food piled on top of it, is one of my favorite family scenes.

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On another note, I did win a contest once, because my parents didn't organize it. The factory my Dad worked at had a contest for children of employees to design a page for the annual safety calendar. 10-year-old me painted a landscape and wrote "The world is a beautiful place, make sure you can see it...wear your SAFETEY glasses!" It won, spelling error and all. I guess the bar wasn't set too high for those barely into double digits. My prize was a $200 gift card to Toys-R-Us--I planned the spending oh-so-carefully, created a budget about what I really wanted, and even made sure to include my 4 younger siblings, and buy some small toys for them to play with, too. Pure bliss is being 10 years old and wandering Toys-R-Us with $200 to spend!

Have you ever won a contest? Have you ever not been able to win contests regardless of talent simply because your relatives happen to organize every cool event ever?

9 comments:

  1. Too funny! I actually won a contest exactly like the one you described. I was 8 and it was a picture about not leaving kids in the tub by themselves. I believed I used grabbing the phone as a distraction. Anyway, every participant got a shirt, but my picture was also chosen for the calendar that year so I got a $25 gift card to Walmart. I bought my first real watch. It was a leather band and had a picture of the little mermaid inside with Sebastian and Flounder ticking around as the seconds hands. It was pretty nice and I still have it saved actually.

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  2. Too funny! I actually won a contest exactly like the one you described. I was 8 and it was a picture about not leaving kids in the tub by themselves. I believed I used grabbing the phone as a distraction. Anyway, every participant got a shirt, but my picture was also chosen for the calendar that year so I got a $25 gift card to Walmart. I bought my first real watch. It was a leather band and had a picture of the little mermaid inside with Sebastian and Flounder ticking around as the seconds hands. It was pretty nice and I still have it saved actually.

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  3. I love your winning idea! $200 to Toys R Us is every kids dream! I don't remember winning any contests, but I was on the front page of our town's paper when I was 4. My mom brought my sister and me to the library for their Valentines Day craft event and someone took a picture of me with my heart. I remember the school van pulling picking me up the next school day and everyone congratulated me when I climbed in, even the big kids.

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  4. That's too funny! I did, surprisingly, win a contest once. There was a doodle-a-day calendar made by American Girl, and I submitted a drawing when I was 10, illustrating a bird made from the letter B. It was published in their calendar, and my parents had the page on their fridge until they moved when I was in college.

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  5. That's a great free-form poem, and I love the story about you winning the contest! When I was 14 and my parents were away for the weekend, I found a random religious-themed essay contest on the internet, and I entered for fun. Soon after, I found out that I won first place, and I sent in my address so they could ship me my $30 and free book. I didn't tell anyone about any of this, though, because I got paranoid that it wasn't a legit contest and that some ax murderer now had our home address, and I was a bit embarrassed if I had just handed our address to some unsavory character. So, weeks later when my prize came in the mail, I revealed it to my family. I was pretty excited :) And once, when my younger brother was in third grade (or something like that) he won a coloring contest sponsored by a radio station, and the prize was one night's lodging in Kansas City, with tickets to both the amusement park and water park there! I was pretty happy with him, since I was one of the children chosen to accompany him on this adventure :)

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  6. $200 to Toys R Us is seriously amazing for a kid! If I was handed $200 right now to my favorite store I'd be out of my mind with excitement!

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  7. That photo is fun! Toys R Us is like a dream win for a kid.

    I won a colouring contest when I was around 7 I think. There was no prize, just the honour of winning.

    bisous
    Suzanne

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  8. Your spelling error reminds me of a similar calendar here that Sean's company produced. Entries from the kids included "always wear GOOGLES" and "SAFTY FRIST" among others. I love winning contests...I'm a bit competitive and enter just to win which usually backfires-I usually win the prizes I don't want.

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  9. In the 5th grade, our local YMCA had a t-shirt drawing contest. I think it was supposed to be about the Y and community or something. Anyway, I won for my age group! The prize was a year-long youth membership to the YMCA, which I used exactly once: to attend a week of camp at the members' rate.

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