J is for Justin

One of the advantages and frustrations of being a writer is how little people in your own family actually read what you write. Today, it is an advantage.  It means I can write about my oldest child.

When Justin was 6 years old, he entered a contest at the newly opened Wal-Mart behind the apartment we lived in at the time. The contest was a Blue Bunny decorating contest.  What a surprise to get called back and asked to participate in an ice cream decorating contest.  The morning of the competition, there were about six total children. Justin had no idea what he was doing. He was just having fun. While the older children were making creations that would pass for the beauty of an ice cream cake, Justin was adding Oreos to the sides and jamming gummy worms into his creation. He won 1st place. His creation? A guy wearing earmuffs, with worms coming out of his face. What he created was the most …well, creative.

The best part was he didn’t realize he had won. His publicity photo was taken, he received a bag of goodies, coupons, and certificates.  A girl he had been talking to at the beginning of the competition was in tears, because she didn’t place.  He took one of his free Blue Bunny ice cream coupons and gave it to her. It made her smile and that was his goal.

He was excited about what he had won. He liked the football and, “Mommy, there are coupons.” He didn’t understand, until we go home, and I explained, exactly how big his prize was.  He had a year’s supply of Blue Bunny ice cream coupons and a Wal-Mart gift certificate (this was before the cards).  That evening, he bought things he wanted and made sure his baby brother got a light up toy (his brother still loves anything that lights up) and a doll for his little sister (she still loves dolls).

I remember a Christmas event in downtown Glendale, one year. A man approached him and gave him ten balloons, all for his own.  Justin walked around and found other children to give balloons to. Completely his idea. He had a great time with it. I always wished we could do it, again.

These are the thoughts that came to mind  as I waited for Justin to come out of a job interview.  He is very excited about the possibility of a new job. Especially since he has been trying to get one for the last two years. Only, electronic applications are not always aware of the person behind the application.  They don’t know about the generosity or the hard work at a museum or at a children’s theatre. They don’t know about all the times he took care of his siblings, about his love of science, or about  the times he saved the lives of animals.

It’s just a cold bit of data that says Yay or Nay, based on Job Experience.

Despite the angst and the frustrations over the years, I am very proud of him.


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