Wednesday, August 23, 2017

Teaching Lego Robotics to 6-year olds in North Seattle

A Lululemon mom might drop off little Espen, but the nanny picks him up.

A little boy walks in on the first day with his arm tightly bandaged. "What happened?" I asked with some exaggerated sympathy.

"I fell off a golf cart when we were in Hawaii last week."

I am helping a little girl untangle a robotics motor from her hair and she asks why I wear the same shoes every day.

Tiny backpacks for tiny pale children filled with vegan, gluten-free, non-GMO snacks. Bars that resemble cat shit and smell even worse. Organic pouches full of squashed up vegetables, basically repurposed baby food. Sunscreen, with firm instructions to apply and reapply for the ten minutes of overcast Seattle skies we will see each mid-morning break.

The kids are polite, but demanding. And not just in the typically demanding way of your average six year old. In a way that lets you know that if they ask nicely, they always get what they want.

All of the kids are nice to the little girl with dark skin and tight curls, but no one wants to be her partner.

At pickup, parents want a full report of each hour of camp. I want to say, "Sebastian stood on his head during my 45 second lesson on gears, broke a $15 motor and secretly pocketed a couple of LEGO pieces after I told him he couldn't take his robot home." But I manage to put a positive spin on the day. If I've learned anything at all running this business, I've learned that parents don't really want to hear the truth about their kids.

Moms snap iPhone photos of my robotics kits so that they can overnight their kid his own for home use. No one ever blinks at the $200+ price tag for each kit.

For these Amazon-subsidized parents, tuition for my camp is a pretty small line-item in their budget. But I stretch their money a long way. I can pay for a month of Asher's piano lessons in an hour. Noe's speech therapy for the entire year takes me a week. Oops, I still need to fill my IRA for this tax year. Done!

So I apply all the sunscreen, unwrap all the free-range vegan buffalo bars, tie all the fancy shoes, and sort all of the LEGOs. With a forced smile on my face and a pocket full of cash.

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