Daily Archives: January 3, 2015

Day 82: Boy codes

Today was a rainy Saturday and we had no plans. Papa had duty, so he was gone from 5:30 am to noon, on call all day, and he’s got to be back at 1am this morning. I wasn’t sure what we were going to do with the day.

And I wasn’t really trying to start an all-day thing, but since Girl had asked yesterday if we could go on PBSkids.org in order for her to receive “top notch training from the Odd Squad,” I registered both kids after breakfast. While I was at it, I registered them for the online Lego Club, to give them access to some games and activities that go along with their magazines.

So, this was Girl’s first time using a laptop by herself. She asked to go on PBS Kids, and started playing an Odd Squad counting game, her first video game ever. Later she made her own character. And then just started navigating around trying different things, as kids will do.

Meanwhile a friend on Facebook mentioned the beginning coding lessons for littles on Code.org, and I thought, why not? Maybe Boy would like it. I set him up on my laptop and moved Girl to the other laptop on the homeschool table.

Boy coding at my messy desk.
Boy coding at my messy desk.

Last I had checked he wasn’t too interested in the drag and drop coding, but this time it totally struck his fancy. He went through nearly 20 lessons, and had to do some significant math problem solving. I even had to introduce the notion of angles (in degrees), and he totally got it, impromptu though my explanation was. While both kids were working on separate laptops in different parts of the house, I was wearing a path on the carpet going back and forth between them. Between online activities and taking breaks to work on Legos, the morning and afternoon went by in a flash. Girl is still working on her Lego Friends Ranch set, and Boy has been working hard on his submission for the Lego Swamp Police vehicle competition.

From the front: gun turret and detachable speed boats.
From the front: gun turret and detachable speed boats.
Storage area at back of ship.
Storage area at back of ship.
Below decks: trashcan, stove, counter with radio, fridge, toilet, sink.
Below decks: trashcan, stove, counter with radio, fridge, toilet, sink.
Below deck on the floating Swamp Police Station.
Below deck on the floating Swamp Police Station.

He’s built a ship that’s a floating police station, that has detachable speed boats to chase ‘crooks.’ Above deck there are gun turrets, a jail, lights, and satellite dishes (not shown in these pictures). In the rear there’s a storage area with fire extinguishers, walkie-talkies, cabinets containing axes. Below deck there’s a control area for the captain (who happens to be a robot), a coffee station with four cups (three for the human swamp police officers, one for a visiting ‘crook’), a kitchen (trashcan, stove, fridge, and cabinet/counter),  and bathroom (toilet and sink with hand soap). I love that his design wasn’t just guns and a jail. I love that he must have thought, well, these officers have to spend a lot of time here while they’re on duty. What all do they need? And I wish it weren’t so bloody difficult to take pictures of Legos.

I don’t think it’s just the mom in me speaking when I say that Boy is a pretty good builder. He could stack twenty blocks when he was a baby. So, he has this gift. And it’s my job, as I see it, to help him translate that raw material of a gift into a living when he’s grown. A living that he likes, that will pay his bills. How does one do that? How do I do that? I think about it every day.

Day 81: Lego Club

My husband didn’t need to be back at work until noon today, but went in early to see a superior whose last day was this morning, a man my husband likes very much, but who has stage 4 cancer. After he left, I was on the phone for an hour with my one of my friends who is having a very difficult time. So both my husband and I felt a little, I don’t know, subdued for the rest of the day.

Honestly I wasn’t up for much, either by way of housework or spending time with the kids, but I wasn’t entirely out of commission. Just subdued. The kids occupied themselves like champs.

Boy went out back with the dog for a while. I could see them running, playing fetch, racing to the tree swing and Boy jumping on. Boy just talking to the dog about stuff. Girl worked on some projects with tape and scissors, and worked on her Lego Friends Ranch.

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And both kids got their Lego Club magazines yesterday, Lego Club Junior for Girl. This morning, early, Boy was reading. Then Girl asked him to put PBS Kids on, but Boy was also reading his Lego comics, and Girl looked at her magazine. She was really excited by the different puzzles, and asked me to help her do a few of them.

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I told Girl what letters to write and showed her examples, and she copied them. Any chance to write letters with Girl is a good thing, and I figure we’ll be doing a lot more of that this year.

Swamp boat Lego contest, in Girl's Lego Club Junior magazine.
Swamp boat Lego contest, in Girl’s Lego Club Junior magazine.

Then Girl found a contest, a challenge to make a new vehicle for the ‘Swamp Police.’ Five winners get a new Lego set. Both kids got excited about this and started working on swamp police boats (pictures to be added tomorrow), but the idea of ‘winning’ something is a new idea, and difficult. They can’t have any idea of the number of people who might also be submitting, and how unlikely it is that they would win. And so what does it mean to them to NOT win? How will it make them feel? Boy told me he was sure to win with his swamp boat, and Girl disappeared; I heard her jagged little sobs from my bed a moment later. When I went to snuggle her, she managed to get out that she couldn’t build good things like Boy could, and he was sure to win, and she would never win anything. I told her that she is a great builder, and that honestly, everything she does is pretty awesome. She told me that she knows that, but that whenever she does something that has a winner, she is never it. And then cried more. I told her that they might not win, but that wasn’t really the point. The point was more to do something cool and fun with a whole bunch of other kids, and show it to the Lego people. Then Girl said, I know the most important thing isn’t winning. I know the most important thing is love. I agreed with her enthusiastically. It would feel good to win a contest, I said, but nothing could feel as good as snuggling like we were at that moment. Yes, she said. But I still want to send a picture of my boat. And I assured her that we would.