Ooops, we did it again…

That’s right, y’all.  All of our horribly unsocialized homeschoolers won the Spirit Award for the STATE level Science Olympiad this time–beating out 48 other middle schools (since the spirit award was giving to one team across both Class A and Class AA) in displaying exemplary sportsmanship… OUR FIRST YEAR THERE!

And thank GAWD because it saved us from BigGuy insisting we leave the whole shindig…

Because guess what?  He medaled in NOTHING.

I have to say something: in NO WAY do I wish upset or disappointment on my child.  Seriously–he will have enough of that in life without me trying to fabricate some as a “life lesson”.  BUT…

I cannot say that I’m upset about him NOT medaling in anything.  In fact, I’m kind of thankful.  You see, BigGuy is one of those kids for whom things (at this current point) come pretty easy for him.  It’s a MAJOR reason we homeschool him:  to be sure he actually learns some level of study skills and perseverance.  I was that kid.  I could walk into geometry ten minutes late, take the test, finish ten minutes before anyone else, and have a perfect score.  I was also pretty obnoxious about it: I did all of my math work in pen because “I didn’t make mistakes”.  Wow…

It hit me like a brick wall when I got to college.  I had no clue how to study.  It was more than just basic study skills–it was planning skills and laying out your time.

BigGuy was headed down this path.  In first grade, he had his first Pinewood Derby with Cub Scouts (racing little wooden cars).  We diligently followed the advice we found to buy two car kits and Husbeau worked on one side by side with BigGuy–who worked on his own.  This way, BigGuy did the entire thing on his own.  And that first year was great–BigGuy won the Derby for his age/rank level.

The next year, he slacked off and made the car kind of last minute.  And won for his rank again.

The third year, he cut more corners and I was pretty sure he wouldn’t win.  Except that he did.

The fourth year, I was getting nervous and was (forgive me) actively wishing he would lose.  He spent just enough time on this car to allow the paint to dry and at this point, people assumed we were helping him with his car.  Because really, we lived in a community where there was absolutely a contingent of parents that would do their kids work just for the win.  For me, I was really looking for BigGuy to get the message that you can’t call it in and still win.  But then he won for his rank.  Again.

Last year, he had a schedule conflict with the Derby and we convinced him that he should attend the (several hundred dollars) class that he loved and give someone else a chance to win the Derby.

But Science Olympiad was a hard, hard fall as a result.  OMG, people… he was a MESS.  My poor guy.  There was only one event he even threw an ounce of effort into and it was Meteorology.  If I gathered up his total study time, it was probably maybe 5 hours.  Six if I’m being really generous.  But he’s competing with kids who have spent the entire school year studying their event.  By the grumblings of other parents at the state competition, it could’ve easily amounted to 56 hours of studying (or more for some of them).

When they called the results for Solar System and Geocaching–he was disappointed but he was okay.  After all, he hadn’t given a lick of effort to Solar System and the GPS unit failed for Geocaching.  But when they announced Meteorology… it was bad.  I got a text from the team coach that he was heading towards us (parents couldn’t sit in the team sections).

Overall, that wasn’t horrible.  He was upset and there was really nothing to say to console him–but he wasn’t making a scene.  That’s totally improvement for my guy.  It spoke volumes to the ongoing maturing we’re seeing in him.  I think the blow may have been lessened by the potential to medal in Anatomy & Physiology even though he might have given that 1-3 hours of review.

When they announced the results for A&P, it was BAD.  The coach texted that he was crying, and Husbeau went down to talk to him.  It took quite a while.  I was a bit nervous, actually.

After all of those results were done, they announced the spirit award and we WON!!!  We were STUNNED!  Suddenly, BigGuy was crying, but he was HAPPY.  Oh my word.  Husbeau said that before they called the Spirit Award, BigGuy wanted to leave.

In reality, BigGuy wasn’t angry that another kid medaled in the events.  He was upset that he thought he’d worked hard enough to do well and now his whole sense of reality was overturned.  It took some talking to get to understanding that, but I’m thankful I had that conversation with him.  Otherwise, I’d have thought he was just angry he didn’t win in a very typical socially-impaired way that wasn’t really deserving of the Spirit Award.  He had really been a good sport all day–complimenting other teams shirts, wishing them luck when they were going into an event that he was leaving–just a really sweet guy all day.

But now he got a cold, hard dose of “your idea of studying hard doesn’t come close to reality” and that was a very scary thought for him.  Suddenly, all of these dreams and goals he had seemed very out of reach because he wasn’t sure he was capable anymore.

Ugh… my heart broke for him.

Obviously he didn’t articulate it like that; but in his little 11yo way, he made his point.  Of course, then MY eyes swelled with tears.  Thankfully, we laid out a plan for the future for him so he had some hope for the future.  Conquering the skills he needed in slow steps over time.  I’m REALLY hoping this sticks for him.  He hasn’t quite Science Olympiad and he hasn’t written off going to the math/science academy.  Not that those things matter, but his attitude and sense of what he’s capable of matter and right now, after this blow, those things matter in terms of gauging his sense of self-esteem and abilities.

It was a good weekend for growth… and a great weekend for “the little team that could”.


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