Monday, May 7, 2018

The Beginning of the Robot Year

Robot season right now goes from August to May for me.  And the kids don't go away, they just hang out here using our fire pit and grill, maybe working for me in the summer, and generally hanging out or maybe doing an outreach event during June and July.  Last summer the 'season' really didn't end as the debacle of the finals of the World Championship caused the organization to deal with us all the way into the summer with conference calls.  So it was never 'over' and I was dealing with the kids raw emotions over how things had turned out.  Thank goodness that half my business is just stitching or packing boxes - so as long as I can stitch while they talk or run around here - I am still pretty productive with the house full.  And I started getting aggressive with making them cook for me if they were hanging out around dinner time - they would get excited to be handed money and the keys to the car and told to go get stuff to grill!.

Getting the robot ready at John's Hopkins for
the invitational for its post-season competition and
therapy for the kids.
In late June, we took the kids to Maryland to compete in an off-season invitational that had saved a spot for the World Finals teams.  It was made up of only the best performing teams in the world and since there was no advancement to a next tournament, it was really low key with lots of sharing, ribbing, joking and people's unstressed personalities coming out.  I hadn't considered going.  But with how things had ended, they needed it.  We went undefeated until the last game of the final when my son's migraine just took its toll.  It had been a tough day as only five of the team had made it and my son had snapped a tendon in his finger the week before so he was in a cast.

At one point in the finals a chain had come off our drive and there is a strict 5 min between matches or you forfeit.  To me these are some of the best times as it separates the teams and shows their character.  Other teams could see the cast on his finger and as he was trying hard to reach in and do the surgery - our team mates were helping as well as other kids from other teams, some yelling for needed tools and parts and others scrambling to get them.  It says a lot about you when your competitors are helping you fix your bot.

So we were the finalist again.  But their record spoke for itself - they had bested everyone and it was soul feeding to talk to others who had witnessed the Worlds matches.  The great thing was there was money prizes and we were able to donate it to our Boston Community Center group we work with for robot supplies.

Going into the fall, I wasn't sure how the older kids were going to handle things.  My son, the captain, was giving all signs that he was 'done' emotionally with it and might not want to do robotics at all.  To me it was a double sided sword, I want him to realize that life is bigger than these experiences and to be able to walk away from things and go onto better things.  I have seen people get too wound up with organizations and put too much importance into things that are actually trivial and not have perspective - and let it keep them from fully launching into life.  But at the same time, I wanted him to finish the activity that has dominated his life and he loves with his head held high and not bitterness.  And I had another six kids on the team to think about.  One of whom lost his mother and grandmother that month to the same cancer.  Having been through that before unfortunately only a year before with a different team member, I knew he and his father would need the social support that the team provided.

So we all decided to go forward again - this time with eyes wide open and without really a goal in mind other than to repair the kids.  And fortunately when the challenge for the year was announced in early September, the creative juices started to flow and they came up with an epic design right out of the gate taking advantage of their special building skills that we all knew immediately could win the world.  So onwards...

1 comment:

  1. I'm really looking forward to reading the whole story!