Thursday, March 30, 2006

Invention Convention

Today's challenge was unexpected, actually beginning last night with my child's tearful complaints of a toothache. I thought I was imagining that his cheek was swollen. I tried to distract him with a few rounds of Boggle Junior before putting him to bed, but he did not sleep. Each time I looked at him, his cheek looked bigger. We stayed up most of the night , trying remedy after remedy (mouthwash, salt water, ice, vitamin C, echinacia, CoQ10) to no avail.

Finally 8am arrived, when I knew I could reach our dentist ,who had filled a cavity in the child's tooth last week. By this time, said child resembled a human chipmunk with an entire winter's supply stashed in one cheek. The dentist's receptionist said to bring him in right away.

What timing! This morning was the official judging for the "Invention Convention" at the child's school. My child was one of the youngest participants and had spent a lot of time and energy on his invention, a "Pooch Perch" which enables our Chihuahua to see out of our windows.

The visit to the dentist took forever, followed by a trip to the drugstore for penicillin and Children's Motrin. When we finally arrived at school, the judging had been completed, and they had skipped my child's entry because he hadn't been there to answer questions.

I found the director of the convention, and seeing how upset my child was, she rounded up some judges and had them judge while I stood by and watched. The child responded well to all questions at first, aptly displaying his enthusiasm for his subject. After about fifteen minutes he started to fade a bit, and finally gave out when she asked if he planned to market his product. After a painful, sleepless night followed by the stress of the dentist's visit, he had reached his limit.

"Uhhh......I dunno........"

These were not the words of a budding scientist. And this particular judge happened to be the personification of the "B" word.... She regarded him sternly and repeated the query: "You DON'T KNOW if you want to market this?!" she uttered, incredulous.


We were sunk, I knew it.

A better mother than I would have jumped right in at that point, explaining the events of the past twelve hours. The problem was, I too was sleep-deprived and not mentally acute. The explanation didn't even enter my mind until I was leaving the school with tears in my eyes.

I don't know whether my child passed on to the next round or not. His fading toward the end of his interview definitely didn't help. How sad it is, I thought, that we rely to such an extent upon outside approval. This is one of the first times I've realized that I need approval not only for myself, but for my child as well. And I therefore teach him to need it.

My wish is to become so secure that I am not hurt or threatened when an insult, real or imagined, is hurled; and that other people's judgments no longer determine my worth. Then I can teach that instead.


ME Strauss said...

Hey Betty,
I guess you know whether you need approval . . . I would have done the same thing in the same situation and felt the same way and maybe it would have been from letting myself and my son down--not from the bitchy judge (why do I assume it was a woman, because I think no guy would say that? Yeah because I think no guy would say that to a little kid.)

I would be "on myself" because I got so swept up in aituation that I quit thinking--I hear the need for approval in that, but it's truly so secondary to the "Who they hell do they think they are and why'd I let them do that?"

You're like my closest friend who is the best mom in the world--you too you know--part of the reason you both are is because you're both so certain that you're not going to be.

Here I am a frist grade teacher and I can hold a candle to what either of you do for your kids.

Betty said...

Thank you, Liz. I have been feeling so lousy about this issue that I was just about to delete this post, and then I saw your comment. You understood! Thank you.

Many hugs,

Shankari said...

Hey Betty,

No not you girl!
You gave me the mantra "Betty knows best"! You inspired me to write my pearls before swine post- don't let the swine get you Betty! You (and the kid) are way too good for that!

Yeah, we do tend to wilt at times- esp. after a sleepless night when days dawns bright and cheery life goes about its pace and we get conned into believing that the Fates are conspiring against us! But at all those moments, just remember and chant the magic mantra- "Betty know best". It works wonders and may even materialise a smile from you and others around too! :)

garnet david said...

Our whole world is build on outside approval. Unfortunately.

You always do your best. Even when you don't think so. Like Liz said, that's why you are such a good mother, because you are so hard on yourself.

I have some chihuahua friends who are dying for one of those Pooch Perches!!

Betty said...

I'll try that mantra. I think I need one right now. It really bothers me that this incident so vividly brought out my worst. Meanwhile, the child has to have the offending tooth extracted today. Maybe along with the tooth, all of this reliance upon outside approval can be discarded.

Betty said...

Can you hook me up with those Chihuahuas?

Taikochan said...

How ironic that what, apparently, disqualifies your child as a "budding scientist" in the minds of a bitchy judge is that while he has enthusiasm and interest in his creation he hasn't thought about, what, marketing! Money! Whatever happened to knowledge and creation for its own sake? How about at least TRYING to teach children that a successful invention does NOT need to make you rich, but simply make someone's (or some dog's) life better? His answer to the question of marketing is the best one I could hope to hear from a child, even if some bitchy judge thinks money is the only determiner of value.

Kelley Bell said...

My daughter did the Invention Convention too. She made it to the finals at the big convention center, but did not win.

It hurt. Her and I both, but hey, the invention was great, we had fun working on the project together, and so what if she did not beat out every other kid in the state.

What counts is the idea, and the childs ability to go from problem to solution.

Edison failed like 1000 times before making the lightbulb, right? (and I dont think he had a toothache.)

Be proud of your child. I am... and Im proud of you too.

Mama Kelly said...

im so sorry that the poor kid had a long painful sleepless night and then had the issues with the judge

i love the idea btw
Id buy one for my kitties

Rache said...

I think it is good to care what others think of you, in some cases. Besides, if you not taught your son to care for other's approval, the outcome of their judging would have little effect on him. This could mean lack of ambition in the future. A little concern for how others perceive you is not a bad thing. It is hard to know when to let things go though. At least he got to show off his hard work. That's the important thing :)

Joy said...

Wow, that's a sad story, though it had a good lesson in the end. I hope that tooth is fine and that said child will be able to move forward in the contest.

T. said...

Hope the dental issues are cleared up and don't worry about that woman. Karma, you know? She'll get hers.

Sideways Chica said...

Dear Betty...once again your life reminds me of poignant (read piss me off)episodes I too encountered.

I can smile now, albeit wryly, because they are past episodes, and my youngest survived and so did I.

Here's to you - the best teacher your son can have.

BTW, I have not had much time to blog around to other sites...but I wanted to say that I miss you at my place. You always provide such a valuable point of view.

Hope all is well...take care chica.

Ciao for now...


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