Saturday, March 9, 2013

Quiz Rally, Eleven Times

Today I'm at the Old Dominion Region Pony Club's annual Quiz Rally, held this year at Virginia Beach.  Why, yes, that is a seven-hour drive from my home.  It's the eleventh straight year in a row that I've taken my daughter to quiz rally, which makes quiz the only thing I can think of that I've done for eleven straight years in a row.  Maybe our fourth of July party, but that's it.

That first quiz, my daughter was five years old, but, because of the age cutoff for pony club, she actually competed as a four-year-old.  I've not seen any other child compete that young.  But my 7-year-old son was competing (he was in pony club until age eleven), and I was going to have to drive 2 children to Virginia Beach by myself, and my daughter was begging me, constantly and with tears, to allow her to join pony club.  I figured either I could let her compete, or I could spend the entire day with her hanging onto my leg and crying.

My daughter was still in preschool.  She could read, quite well, but she couldn't write.  She couldn't button her own khaki pants, either, but I remember how she seriously she brushed her hair the morning of the competition, and slid her headband into place.  I remember how nervous they both were as I helped them into their car seats.  I remember my son laughing hysterically when he came out of Mega room, which is a room where the kids have to match the names on a list with the items on tables.  "Guess who got the highest score in Mega room!" he said.  It was my daughter.  Later I asked her how she'd possibly known all those things.  "Flannel bandages?" I said.  She gave me a scornful look.  "They were made of flannel," she said.

Ever since my daughter was old enough to qualify for pony club championships, she's wanted to go for quiz.  We haven't always been able to--last year, going to the London Olympics took precedence--but three years ago her team finished 2nd in regional competition, and two years ago, at a full national championship, her team finished 5th out of 40.  This year, for the first time, she hopes to go to championships in eventing, a riding discipline.  Our quiz days are waning; she's in high school now.  No matter what, I don't think we'll extend our streak beyond 14 years in a row.

She knows a lot, but that's not why I'm glad she does quiz.  One of the sections of quiz is called classroom:  competitors have to stand and answer questions in a filled room.  Learning to speak in front of a crowd is tough, but my daughter's gotten good at it.  Also, in quiz, if competitors aren't given points for their answer but are pretty sure they've got grounds to argue, they're allowed-even encouraged--to protest to the judges.  Standing up for yourself and arguing your own case?  Good skills for children to have.

(I have quiz stories about my son, too, but he'd rather I not share them.  Just so you know.)