Thursday, January 03, 2013

Deciding About the Next FIRST Robotics Season

With the struggles of the fall and the increased intensity of rowing varsity my son worried about how he could juggle academics with robotics and rowing. To keep things calm I suggested he not participate in the optional off-season activities, and my son agreed that was the best plan. Our top priorities were: his health, his academics, and his sport. There was no energy or time left for Boy Scouts or off-season robotics.

As FIRST Robotics kick-off approaches I have held back and not pushed. I do not want to be a pushy parent. My hands are full with homeschooling and I do not want my intensity to be a negative. I hoped my son would do robotics for a second season but still had the top priorities of health, academics, and his choice of the sport as the top three. I didn't want to push my son to have anxiety or more stress.

One day during Christmas break my son and I had a short-lived power struggle over whether or not he needed a new prescription for his reading glasses. The doctor said he needed them. I will spare the details but it culminated with the exchange of heated words in the optometrist's exam room. Since the door was open I hope the staff and other patients did not hear the f bombs he dropped, for which he promptly received a consequence per the family code of conduct contract.

He then asked if he could blow off steam when we got home by smashing up the rotted garden bench with a sledgehammer and I consented. (Safe physical activity of destroying appropriate materials was actually recommended by the doctor. Boys, he said, need to get their anger out physically while girls tend to keep it contained inside themselves which I'm told can easily fester to depression. He suggested also that my son spend his own money on cheap wood that he could smash up with the contingency that he also clean up any resulting mess.)

When we got home he was calmed down and said so when I asked if he needed to be told where the sledgehammer is. He said he didn't feel the need to do that anymore, "...and I don't feel like having to clean up the mess afterwards". He dove into his math lesson and I realized that the afternoon had potential to have another eruption if we remained in close proximity. I recalled the email announcing an all day meeting of the robotics team that day. I asked if he's like to go and he said yes.

He didn't like the lunch offerings here so he left with an empty stomach. On the way I said, "It probably would behoove you to find a way to do both robotics and crew so that you can have the maximum time with your friends and more time away from your family both for the benefit of those activities for you and for improved family relations." He replied, "I think you are right. These are my top two activities and I want to do both of them." I said we'd have to change the homeschool schedule to give more time in the day for homeschool lessons, by waking up an hour earlier; this was met with a groan. Hopefully he can do both robotics and crew each day, so he can help the robotics team on a regular basis.

I dropped him off and he had his own money in his pocket so he could walk to buy himself lunch at a nearby strip mall restaurant when he got hungry. After having recently emailed the team leader and head mentor coach recently to tell them he was not sure of the committment level he could guarantee, he was ready now to start the meeting by having a talk with the teacher mentor about what positions were available and how he could best help the team given his inflexible varsity sport practice schedule.

My older son is growing more independent and autonomous everyday. It feels odd letting him go and letting him handle things on his own. Homeschooling moms are used to being all involved in everything, some of my homeschooling peer Mom friends would have expected (or insisted) that they would be present to have that conversation with the coach, but in the school setting it is inappropriate. A team created by homeschoolers and run by homeschoolers would have a more enmeshed relationship, not because the kids are not ready to be on their own, but more out of habit because that is the way it has always been done. When in Rome, do as the Romans do: so my son is on his own. It's developmentally appropriate anyway. He can handle it, so he is handling it without being hand-held by his Mama.

We'll see how this shakes out. I am hoping it's a win/win for everyone.

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