So a few weeks ago, I was pretty ticked at the robo-dads for their lack of respect for the girls and their time with the robot at the girls’ robotics team practice. Yesterday the dads finally started to get it just a little bit.
Now I am not one to toot my kid’s own horn. I watch and observe all the kids on the team and I know which kid is the best at screwing around. Which kid has the better mechanical skills. Which kid is the creative one who could not care less about programming or building a robot. And which kid is the best programmer on the team (yes, that one is mine). Now again I don’t like to brag, but the kid is smart.
All the other kids on the team recognize it and in fact are very good at encouraging the Big One when she gets frustrated. They know that if the Big One cannot figure out the problem, there are pretty much toast. At least once at every practice at least one of the other kids on the team tells her to keep going because she is the best programmer on the team.
The dads pretty much know this as well. When there is a problem on the robot course, they always call the Big One over and ask her opinion on how to fix whatever is going wonky.
So a little background to get to yesterday’s practice. Last weekend the kids competed in the FLL Qualifying Tournament at High Tech High. There were 23 teams competing. Eight of the top teams were invited to compete in the upcoming Southern California Regional competition at LEGOLand in two weeks. Our team’s robot performance was middle of the pack, but they rocked it in the “Core Values” section of the competition. For this section, the kids are basically in a room with a panel of judges. The judges give the kids a random task to complete. They are given a short amount of time to do whatever they can to complete the task. It is basically a team building-type exercise where the judges are observing how the kids work together, not necessarily how successful they are at completing the challenge. The kids did awesome and ended up taking second place in this section. Their Core Values score combined with their research project score, their robot design and the robot performance was high enough to get them invited to the regional tournament.
So now we have TWO WEEKS to prepare for this next level. The kids were working yesterday on some modifications to improve the robot’s design and performance. The mechanical kid was asked to work on a new arm piece to improve the reliability of a couple programs, while the Big One was working on some other programming challenges. She was at a point where she needed a robot to test something, but the two robots were in use by other kids.
At this point the mechanical kid had gotten bored with his assigned task and was off building some flying machine with LEGOs, so the Big One began working on the modified arm.
Robo-dad #1 comes over and looks at the piece in front of the Big One and says, “Did ‘mechanical kid’ build that for you?”
The Big One didn’t even look up, she just kept her head down and replied, “No, I built it.”
Robo-dad #1 looks at me (I was on the floor sorting 5 million LEGO pieces because I have OCD issues) and then looks back at the Big One and says, “Hmmmmmmm that’s pretty good.”
At this point Robo-dad #2 joined the conversation. He asked the Big One if he could see what she was working on. She, of course, obliged and handed him the piece. He gets this huge grin on his face and says, “HMMMMMMM, that’s REAAALLLLLLLYYYY good!”
In Robo-dad#2’s defense he knows how smart the Big One is and he is the one that is always asking for her input on the other kids’ programs. I don’t think he was all that shocked at her skills, but he was definitely impressed with her problem solving and the way she just quietly went over to the table and did what needed to be done.
What can I say, the kid is a rock-star!
So today in math, the Big One learned something new and then was shocked that I knew what she was talking about. I admit that 5th grade math has stumped me in the past. Shoot 3rd, 4th and 5th grade math have all stumped me. The methods that the Common Core teaches are too much for my brain. I can sometimes see why they do it that way, but I am too old to learn new tricks. And when you consider that between my two college degrees, I took ONE math class, it was fair for the Big One to be shocked.
So she starts to tell me about the problem they learned. She said there was an 8 and then a little number 5 right above the 8. So she is telling me that everyone in the class thought they could just multiply 8 times 5 to get the answer, but she said, “That was not right, mom.”
I said, “I know… to get the answer you have to do 8 times 8 times 8 times 8 times 8. Like 8 times 8 five times. It’s called 8 to the fifth power.”
The total and complete shock on her face said it all and then she said this to me:
“WAIT! You learned about 8 to the fifth power too? Eh, I guess that makes sense our math book is about 300 years old!”
What the actual heck kid? I am not 300 years old!
One of my biggest pet peeves is people who are always playing the victim. It makes me crazy when I hear my girls, shouting, “SOMEONE took my…..” or “MOOOOOOMMMMMM she _______ me” (insert whatever verb you want there, hit, bit, kick, took my… blah blah blah. When they get on a kick about how the world is out to get them, it makes me crazy.
Another thing I typically don’t get too wrapped up in is the boy vs girl mentality. I don’t get all up in arms that LEGOs are considered “boy” toys and Barbies are “girl” toys. Who really cares? My kids play with LEGOS, trucks, Barbies, dolls, anything really. I don’t care what Target labels the aisle in the store.
So I admit that I was shocked at my own reaction and feelings today at the girls’ robotics team practice. We have a co-ed team. There are five girls and three boys on the team. Just for background, they are on a First LEGO League team. The program tasks the kids with completing a research project on a pre-determined theme (this year is called Trash Trek). In addition to the research project, they build and program LEGO-based robots to complete certain “missions” on a playing field.
Today at practice, there were only four girls and one of the boys at practice. Now as is typical with any team or group, not all of the kids are focused on the task at hand all the time. Primarily The Big One IS on task, while the other kids take turns goofing off. It used to make her crazy, but fortunately she has come to terms with the way group projects work.
This afternoon, The Big One was working on one mission, while the one boy in attendance was working on another, while the other three girls (The Little One included) took turns working on programming another mission and screwing around with LEGOs.
One of the dads has taken on the leadership role (God bless him!), while the rest of us help out in different areas. Today The Husband was working with the boy, while the coach and I alternated working with The Big One. Both kids were struggling with their programming missions. With each small tweak to the program, the robot has to be updated and then run again on the practice mat. It can be very tedious, time consuming and frustrating for perfectionist-type kids (let’s face it, the kids who are often most successful in robotics are not average kids!)
The team has built two identical robots to assist with the limited time we have. Today The Husband and the boy had one robot, while The Big One had the other robot. The coach was at one point able to get the other three girls to focus on another programming mission while also working on engineering an add-on component to the actual robots. Each time the other three girls needed the physical robot for something, The Big One was expected to give the one she had to them. I cannot count the number of times, the coach and The Husband both told The Big One to share the robot with the other girls.
After about an hour of it, I was getting more and more upset that not once was the boy expected to give up his robot. Each and every time there was a need to share the robot, the girls were expected to give theirs to the other girls. It was really weird for me. I honestly didn’t even know how to react to it. I’ve never really noticed anything like this before and taken offense to it.
I admit that I sat there stewing getting more and more bothered by what was going on. But the really weird thing is that I didn’t say a word. I didn’t jump in to “defend” the girls or question what was going on. Instead I just sat there watching and listening.
In The Husband and coach’s defense, I don’t think they were even conscious of what they were doing (the coach has two daughters himself). I asked The Husband about it as soon as we got in the car. He was completely unaware of what was happening and his role in it, as I am certain the coach was too. The Husband’s response was simply that we should have asked them for the robot and he says they would have gladly shared it. I’m not so sure. The Big One tried a couple times to share and was denied each time. She was either ignored or told directly to let the boy try “one more” tweak and then he’d give it up, of course by then the girls had shared amongst themselves.
I apologized to The Big One for allowing it to happen. And told her how proud I was of her for just going with the flow and not getting too openly upset. I honestly feel like I failed the girls today.
How would you have handled the situation?
As y’all know the girls are polar opposites. They don’t look anything alike. They don’t dress alike. They don’t like the same things. Now that being said, they also cannot be categorized as being girlie-girls or tomboys either. They both wear dresses, play with dolls and wear pink. But they also like to play in the mud, fight with each other and make messes. They are pretty well-adjusted kids I’d like to think.
They participate in an afterschool hip hop dance thing called Heartlight San Diego. The culmination of this particular session is the opportunity to dance during the half-time show for a San Diego State Aztec football game. It’s been hotter than hades in San Diego this summer and now into fall. But the last few evening have gotten a little chilly. And sometimes it’s gets breezy down on the field during the games as well, so I suggested the girls both wear pants for the show. It’s not fun dealing with tired, whiney and cold kids, trust me. Been there, done that.
Because of the heat, the girls have been living in shorts and dresses. The Big One pretty much only wears leggings. She lives in an elastic-wasted world. She doesn’t like to deal with zippers, buttons or snaps. Just pull them on and go. So her choice of wants was a no brainer. The Little One, on the other hand, really wants to wear jeans. The challenge (in addition to the recent heat) is there are not many jeans companies making jeans for little girls with booties. There is no getting around it, the Little One is built like her mother. She’s got a backside, which makes jeans a tough, tough option.
She has these animal print, stretchy jeans that were given to us by one of The Big One’s friends. These things have several things going for them in The Little One’s eyes – they are a loud pattern, they are stretchy, they are jeans and they came from her big sister’s friend. So she decides that she is going to wear these particular jeans to the Aztec game. She wiggles into them and is dancing around the house, pretty content with herself.
Once we get to the stadium, and get in line to check in for their dance thing, the humidity has increased significantly. So while the temperature had dropped to a comfortable number the humidity is making us all sticky and a little whiney. For the kids to have easy access to the field to dance, we have seats on the field level. Now at Qualcomm Stadium to get to the field level, you have to descend about 40 steps. So, of course, after the game you gotta walk back up those same steps to get out. It was still pretty muggy when we left the game, so once we got to the top of the steps and hiked back out to the mom-mobile, which was in the outer loop of the stadium parking lot, we were all feeling a little gross and sweaty.
We get in the car, get seat belts buckled and The Little One, lets out a huge sigh and says, “Well, that’s that, I’ll never be a real lady.”
At this point neither The Husband, The Big One, or I have any idea what she means, so I took the bait and asked her what in the world was talking about.
She said, “Jeans are way too hot, so I’ll never be a like a real lady or woman, ya know cause they wear jeans all the time.” She then went on to lament the challenges associated with sitting in jeans, “your butt shows and then you have keep tugging at ‘em to get ‘em, back up. I’m not doing it anymore.”
So there ya go. If you don’t wear jeans, you are apparently not a real lady! But hey, at least your butt won’t be showing either!
Those of you who know me, know that I love to read. Given the choice, I’d rather be curled up on the couch reading a book than doing much else. Unfortunately between kids, dog, The Husband, part-time jobs, lots of jobs I do for free and everything else that happens on a daily basis I don’t read much anymore. But someday…. I will make the time to read again!
I hope that I can encourage my girls to be readers. The Big One is a lot like me when it comes to books. Each night when I tuck her in, she asks, “Can I read for a bit?” Most nights I tell her 15 minutes is all she gets. I am still working on the Little One. Her struggle is with finding something she is interested in. Everything is boring she says.
In the interest is encouraging a love of reading for all, I wanted to introduce you to my friend’s latest project. Robb has been a friend since high school. We bonded working on the high school newspaper and that bond continued as we both took countless English classes at San Diego State University. We ate many a lunch together between classes – yogurt pretzels and Dr. Pepper. We shared a secret for many years that I finally confessed only recently to my mother concerning a certain car accident on the freeway in which I was not the one driving MY vehicle despite what we told my parents, the insurance company or the other driver for that matter! Our lives have taken many different turns over the last 25 plus years, but through the magic of Facebook, we’ve been able to share glimpses of life with one another.
Robb has co-authored a book with his friend, Sue Ranscht, and needs some help getting it published. I know those of you who read my stuff are all in agreement that we lived in a messed up world. People are mean just to be mean. People are judgmental in feeble attempts to make themselves feel better. People are bullied for being different. It’s crazy to think how much happier we could all be if we just learned to love one another and embraced our differences. Those differences are what make us each beautiful and wonderful and fantastically made.
“ENHANCED is a story about belonging or not belonging. It’s about the harm that comes to a society that deliberately excludes those who are different from its mainstream population. Historically, literature and entertainment lack protagonists who are role models for many of those who feel they don’t belong. We created characters to counter that lack…”
Sounds interesting, huh? So please, click this link below. Read the excerpt and if you feel so inclined, pledge to purchase a copy of this book and help my friend achieve his dream!
So, the Girl Scout troop end of year fun is at our house this weekend. That means we are in serious cleaning mode. All the piles of junk need to be sorted, trashed, recycled, re-homed or put away. The girls were both diligently working on their rooms while I tackled the kitchen.
I freely admit, I don’t like to clean. I am a surface cleaner from the word go. No shame, I know my issues. As such I am often like the kids, and get distracted. I cannot just clean for 3 hours straight. I clean a little, then stop to work on the dishes or the laundry or something else. So I was getting bored with the kitchen and switched to laundry for a bit.
Meanwhile, the Little One had found her gold LEGO ornament and pieces from a few Christmases ago. She was trying to get all the pieces back into the clear ball ornament. She asked for my help getting the pieces all apart. I am the master LEGO separator in our house. This, of course, caused the Big One to wonder where her gold LEGO ornament was. So she set off to find it. As I am folding laundry, she comes in exasperated because she cannot find hers. She hems and haws, sighs, taps her foot on the ground. All the while, I admit, I WAS ignoring her. I knew what was coming next.
“MMMMOOOOMMMMMMMMM, can you PLEASE help me find my LEGO thing?”
I said I would help in a few minutes as I kept folding the laundry that was all over my bed. She continued to sigh, stomp her foot, pick at the blanket. More deep breaths as I asked her if she checked the top of her dresser. YES. Did she check her LEGO shelves? YES. Did she check the catchall baskets on her cubby shelf thingie. YES, she had checked EVERYWHERE and the LEGOs were GONE.
Again, I am still folding laundry. In my head I am thinking that if she would HELP me fold the laundry, it would get done faster and then I could help her. But she never picks up on it, she just continues to sigh and tap her foot. So I continued sorting socks, folding PJs, etc.
Then the Little One comes in asking if I could go get her a broom because she needs to sweep BEHIND her dresser????? (Who does that??) I continued folding laundry, wondering when they will ever get to the point where they see that I am doing something they are perfectly capable of and offer to help. (trust me I’ve tried asking, hinting, directing and yelling they are not fans of folding laundry). I tell the Little One she knows where the brooms are and get it herself. Again the Big One is still staring at me, sighing and getting generally annoyed that I am not helping her find her missing LEGOs.
Again, if she would have folded a T-shirt, I might have gone a little faster or maybe even stopped folding to help her, but she insisted on just being disgusted with my pace, so I kept at a snail’s pace. It’s fun to the be the mom sometimes.
Finally I finish folding the laundry. By now the Little One has swept behind her dresser. She is disgusted with the amount of dog hair back there. So she sets her sights on the Husband’s dresser. She is on the ground with the broom, reeling in disgust at the piles of dog hair under there. As long as nobody is crawling around on my bedroom floor, they’ll never see the dog hair under there. SHEESH, kid, give me a break.
So I head into the Big One’s room. Asking again if she checked everywhere. Again, she says YEEEEESSSSSSS! I know that I will find it because that’s what I do. So now I had to decide how obnoxious to be about it. So I start in the least likely places. Asking did you look here? Did you look there? Now she was getting really ticked at me. So I started on her basket things. In the SECOND one I looked in, what do you think I found??? YEP, the LEGO thing that was NOWHERE to be found. I am amazing like that. You can be jealous.
I was feeling pretty self-righteous, I admit it. When the Little One came in with a pile of dog hair, almost as big as her head. “MMMMOOOOOOOMMMMMMMM! You need to clean better!” She exclaimed.
We are sure going to miss that child.
I’m kidding. I didn’t beat her. I simply pointed out that now that she was such an expert dog hair wrangler, it could now be added to her weekly chores. Score again for mom!
So I am well aware that my kids are not typical kids. And I am cool with that. Last night, my fabulous 25yo niece called and asked me what our plans were for today (Saturday). I told her we were going to Robot Day at the Central Library. She was silent for a second and then started giggling and said, “Why are your kids so weird? Can’t they have a softball game or something like that?”
I laughed it off and told her I was okay with weird kids. Cause really I am!
So we rode the trolley downtown today to attend Robot Day. The Big One competed in a First LEGO League robotics competition last month. She had a lot of fun and learned a lot about robots, programming and dealing with obnoxious boys. She was on a team of eight – six boys and two girls. They did well as rookies and had fun at the big competition at LEGOLand. (I think they finished 7th out of 62 teams). It was a great experience.
At the library today, there were a lot of big and small robots set-up and different displays to check out. We watched a 3D printer create part of a castle and then laughed as the guy tried to sell me my very own 3D printer for $799. (or $70/month he offered!)
Then we moved on to watching a some 20-something year old young man play with his robot. The robot was supposed to be doing a line following program. But each time the robot approached a curve in the line it stopped running. The following conversation ensued:
FIXITMOMMY: “See even the big kids have some challenges with line following programs.”
BIG ONE: “Ummmm, We had some trouble with it but eventually got it to work.”
FIXITMOMMY: – rolls her eyes at the kid as if to say, ‘yeah right, it’s the course’s fault not you the one who created the course and the programmed the robot.’ I didn’t verbalize my thoughts, merely kept them to myself. But clearly he knew what I was thinking.
20-SOMETHING DUDE: “No, the curve is too tight, the robot cannot do it” as he is peeling off the black tape to change the course on the table.
BIG ONE: “Well for my team, we weren’t allowed to change the course. We had to fix the program until it followed the course right.”
20-SOMETHING DUDE: “ Ummmm …..” continued to peel off tape to change the course.
FIXITMOMMY: “OKAY, umm, let’s go see something else.”
It was fabulous to watch my 9yo school this big kid! Yes I admit I walked away laughing. Poor dude didn’t even know what to say. Weird or not, the Big One is awesome!