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Mom Fail?

October 25, 2015

The Big One with last season’s robot

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?

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3 Comments leave one →
  1. Sue Ranscht permalink
    October 26, 2015 7:09 pm

    Just reading this raised my hackles. I’m probably old enough to be YOUR mother, and having grown up in the ’60s and ’70s, I have spent much of my life raising my consciousness about such treatment to the point that it’s second nature to me to speak up about it in what I hope is a non-confrontational way. I think my response would have been, “You know, let’s take turns sharing. The Big Once shared last time, so now it’s your turn,” and then just continued to work.

    • fixitmommy permalink*
      November 4, 2015 3:33 pm

      Thank you for your feedback, Sue!! Both she and I handled it much better at the next practice. We were both much more aware and vocal. I was proud of both of us!

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