Friday, November 20, 2009

Learning to win; learning to lose

Tonight was the Boy Scout "Space Race" - a space-take on the pinewood derby concept. The boys get a pinewood block to create a rocket ship. It's a kit; fairly simple to do. Zayd worked on his on his own. Paul had to help Ethan sand his block.

The boys have been talking about the space race for four weeks they have been SO excited. When I picked them up from their after-school program tonight, here is what we talked about in the car:

Zayd: I am soooo nervous about the space race.

Me: Why are you nervous? It's going to be a lot of fun!

Ethan: Yeah! I'm not nervous. I'm excited for the space race.

Zayd: Well... what if I don't win?

Me: Are you doing this just to win?


Zayd: Yes. Why else would I do it?


Me: Well... not everyone is going to win. Sure it would be fun to win... but you might not. You worked on your rocket - you did your best. Just go and have fun. They'll be pizza and pop and all your friends will be there.

Ethan: I don't care if I win! I don't care! I'm going to have fun!

Me: See Zayd? See? (Then I do a little cheer) Whoooo hooooo! The Amundson's are going to the space race to have funnnnn!

Ethan joined me.

Zayd did not.

Zayd: (heavy sigh). I will not have fun if I don't win.

Hooray for me. This should be a blast.


Did you know the Boy Scouts take their races very seriously? Uhhh... yea. They do. Very seriously.

We arrive at the school gym a little before 6 pm to find this contraption. Two wooden things on either side of the gym with four long strands of fishing wire tied between them. The rockets hang from the fishing line. They shoot out of this starting gate and the rocket that makes it the farthest wins. The rockets are really like little planes - they have a propellor on one end that is hooked to rubber bands. You  are allowed to rotate the propellor 100 times and then when you let go.. the rocket goes down the fishing line...  It's really simple - but hard to describe.

There were 16 kids with rockets. So how do you figure out which kids race against whom in the "four lanes" rocket contraption?

You use a computer program. A computer program that not only calculates who needs to race against who based on how well the rocket performs... but on what lane they've raced in (just in case there is more drag in one lane versus another). And guess how many races it takes to make sure you've given all rockets an equal opportunity?


Thank God I had pizza, pop, and Paul with me.  I might have died of hunger, thirst, or just gone mad.

Zayd's rocket was out of contention early on. He didn't cry, but honestly? He might has well have. He looked like a crushed little soul. Pitiful. Sulking in his chair. Ethan was still in the race, and way trying to console Zayd and not get too excited about his chances at a trophy.

So...sixty races and 2 and a half HOURS later... we came to what they called the "final round."

Thank God, I thought.

The scout leaders announce that "final round" is made up of 18 heats.

I frantically turn to Paul:

Me: What does that mean?

Paul: It means 18 more races.


Me: Are you kidding me? (I may have added an expletive)

Paul: Nope.

Shoot me now.


Ethan's rocket ended up racing in like 20 heats over course of the evening. We snapped 10 rubber bands and finally had to resort to borrowing ones from others who were out of the race. By the way, being in 20 heats meant rotating that damn propellor 100 times each for 20 races... Paul's finger was bleeding at the end of the night.

Oh - and did you know you are supposed to "lube" the rubber bands?

Did I mention the Boy Scouts are serious about their races?

In the end, Ethan won first place for the tiger cubs (the den I lead) and our other two tiger cubs also got second and third place trophies. Ethan also came in second overall.

Zayd did not get a trophy. He was fine until he got in the car. Then he lost it.

Zayd: (bawling - and he cries VERY loud)

Ethan: Zayd.. Zayd... ZAYD! Just CALM down. CALM down. Just calm down Zayd. (He is admiring his large trophy, of course).

Zayd: (bawls louder)

Ethan: Zayd. You don't need to cry. It's JUST a space race.

Zayd: (continues sobbing).

Ethan: Zayd. Don't you remember what we said in the car before? It doesn't matter if you win or lose. We are just having fun.

Zayd (sobbing)

Ethan: I didn't care if I won or lost. I don't care. I had fun.

Zayd: (louder).

Me: Yeah! It doesn't matter if you win or lose! We are ALL WINNERS! Right guys! WHOOOO HOOOOO! (I cheer).


Ethan: Except for Zayd. He is a loser.

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