I served as a judge for the 43rd annual Miss Okra pageant, and I’ll tell you what — there are some mighty talented young ladies around here. This year’s winner, Miss Louella Rae Lopperhooper grabbed my vote when she appeared on stage wearing a stunning green gown, the exact color of ripe okra. She looked like a radiant pod of the gods.
During the pageant, the 47 contestants stepped to the microphone and told the standing room only audience their favorite way to eat okra (fried was by far the most popular, with pickled a close second), then told us about their achievements. Many mentioned playing soccer or tennis, two played the harmonica, one made puppets, and eighteen twirled the baton. Three raised show cows, and four said their special gift from God was texting.
What crossed my mind, as I doodled okra cartoons on the score sheet, was how we reward and encourage our children’s activities instead of personal attributes. These girls defined themselves as what they did, not what they valued.
Not everyone can be first chair violinist in the all-county symphony. Not everyone can get a baseball scholarship, but somewhere in the mix of growing up with hundreds of choices and opportunities, our children need to know that what really matters are their unseen inner qualities.
If they love football, but keep running to the wrong end zone, a good coach or parent will point them in the right direction, but also mention their hard work ethic and the fact that they never give up. Working hard will pay off a lot more in the future than the memory of a touchdown.
Miss Sallie Jane said her 1967 home economics class was her favorite because despite setting off the school’s fire alarm when she made . . . click HERE to continue reading the story at AL.com