Sunday, July 21, 2013

Green With Envy

     It's "Going Green" Week here at what I like to call Camp (Insert your last name here.)  Let's just call it Camp Awesome for the purposes of this post.  Every week, I give the kids little challenges to complete, and in return I take them someplace not only fun, but almost always free.  The purpose of the challenge is one of three things--to get them to work together, to get them thinking, or to give them a little friendly competition without actually giving them competition.  For example, this week one of their challenges was to take a two-story "dollhouse" (two wipes boxes taped together) and use recycled materials to decorate it.  There were a couple of requirements--it had to have a "character" living in it, it had to have a recognizable couch, chair, bed, and wall decorations, and lastly, it had to be good enough that it could get 25 likes if I put it on my Facebook account (I had no real worries about that as I have enough adults on there that it shouldn't be an issue.)
     Fun, right?  Right away there were issues.  Punkgirl had jumped right up for this challenge, thrilled because she had made a dollhouse before,  so this should be easy, right?  It's actually kind of tough when you can only use the materials provided.  Happyboy, who had been hesitant, realized he could use a toy dragon as a character and immediately began designing a funky cut-up water bottle chair.  Punkgirl did not like this.  Being the older child, I think she thought it should come much more easily for her, but she was stumped.  There was a mini meltdown, which frustrated both of us.  At twelve years old, Punkgirl is still a master of the mini-meltdown--it just doesn't involve tantrums like it did when she was little.  There is an icy silence, followed by retreat from the family, followed by a few grunts and frustrated howls in the privacy of her room.  I often am at a loss as to whether to ignore these outbursts or meet them head on, and sometimes I do lose out to my own sense of frustration--after all, it's supposed to be challenging but fun, and as an ex-teacher you tend to expect yourself to be able to engage your children without all the nonsense!! 
     I took a few deep breaths and decided not to screech back at her, but the only thing that got her back to the table was the conversation that this was supposed to be fun, and the reward was the chance to go to a neighborhood playground cookout, complete with a dj and prizes, the kind of thing Coffeeguy and I generally shy away from in the heat.  
     In the end, she took herself a little less seriously, and didn't worry as much that her little brother was finishing faster, accusing her of copying his designs, and boasting that he would surely get more "likes" than her.  I explained carefully that I was posting them together, and that they needed 25 likes combined.  Once she realized they wouldn't be in competition against each other, their efforts were pretty darned admirable, and the resulting cookout was surprisingly kind of fun!  (The other added incentive was a chance to win 'chore bucks'--which they can trade in to get out of a chore here and there.)  
     So my question today--Suck at home you encourage competition? And how do you handle jealousy and the occasional mini-meltdown?

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