Domo Arigato, Ms. Roboto

Thalia came home a little dejected Thursday night. “I probably didn’t make it into the Robotics Club, Mom.”

The Robotics Club, you guys!

“Why not?”

“Well, we all had to get in small groups at try-outs and make a tower stand. And ours was the only group that couldn’t get it to stand on its own.”

“But…did you try other ways to solve the problem?”


“Did you work well with the group? You kept trying and didn’t get upset or frustrated?”

“Of course.”

Then I asked her the question that may have mattered just as much:

“How many other girls were at your try-out session?”

It was just Thalia and one other girl. I hate to say it, but I figured that boded well for her odds.

The Robotics Club, you guys!

It doesn’t even matter to me if she gets in or not; I was just so thrilled she even made the attempt.

I admit it’s easy for me to encourage my daughters’ love of dance and gymnastics and art and soccer and reading and writing conceptual poems. I’ve been there. Robotics, however? A bit out of my comfort zone.

As much as I run a website that encourages girls to get involved with STEM interests, I’m not a native. But our kids are. They’re growing up asking me to show them what the code means on my website or how to make a gorilla out of punctuation marks. Thalia’s favorite subject is science. I  know how much she loves LEGO, and  how she tried desperately to trade with her sister when Sage scored the female scientist Minifig. She adores Little Bits and Minecraft.

(And zomg the Minecraft obsession. Fortunately I just discovered this little trick to help with that.)

If I think about it, Thalia has Robotics Club Candidate written all over her. She’s still the artsy kid. Only she’ll grow up with LEGO elements and NXT code in her tool kit too, right alongside the brushes and smudgy pastels, and songsheets from musicals.

Because yesterday she got her acceptance letter.

She’ll be devoting six hours each week after school in the fall making circuits, programming robots, participating in a First LEGO League competition, and  figuring out how to get that tower to stand.

Her hug, as she told me the news, was one of the most magical things I ever felt, like her smile just filled her body and went right into mine.

Have you ever physically felt your child smile?


It’s funny when we don’t know our kids as well as we think we do. Robotics Club.

She’ll be great at it. Or not. It doesn’t matter. I love that she’s pushing herself. I love that she’s pushing me. I love that she’ll have something all her own that none of us have ever done before. I love that she doesn’t care that no other girls in her class are doing it. I love that she builds her own life-size Enderman in her spare time out of cardboard boxes.

She loves him and calls him Endy and says they’re going to get married.

T and her enderman ©mom101

Remember when she was just a baby? It’s getting harder.



29 thoughts on “Domo Arigato, Ms. Roboto”

  1. When you ask, have you ever physically felt your child smile?

    Yes, yes I have. Even though piano lessons haven’t always been smooth, when my oldest gets her score after performing at Federation and she tells me her score, her smile shoots the brightest rays straight into my heart.

    Congratulations Thalia!

  2. I love this, too. I am not even sure what a robotics club is or does. Certainly not when I was a kid. The closest I came to robotics was Robby the Robot from Forbidden Planet, which I recently saw again. And I am sure Thalia and her friends can make a far better Robot. Congratulations to Thalia for her enthusiasm, her interest, her imagination and her desire to do something really out of the box. And congratulations to you for supporting and encouraging it. And for bringing up a child with the imagination and desire to exceed us all.

    1. Your support means so much. Every time another family member texted or called yesterday to ask if she had heard the news, she was just thrilled all over again. She was so proud to tell you.

      May they all exceed us all!

  3. As a female engineer myself, I am always proud to hear when another young girl is interested in STEM type stuff and has the support to go after it. As a child, and even through high school, I never felt discouraged in any way from pursuing math/science type stuff. Maybe it was my teachers, parents, friends, or some of each. It wasn’t until college that I even fully realized that “girls can’t do math” is a thing that some people think. I had a professor who thought that but I showed him 😉

    I am impressed that Thalia’s school even has a robotics club, I think that’s fantastic! I hope she has a great time.

    1. Thanks Jen! I never felt that way either as a kid. Though I do remember thinking science was nerdy at some point. And then the science and math and engineering geniuses came and took over the world and now look at us.

  4. I’m having a hard time thinking about an exclusive robotics club– my husband is the parent volunteer for the one at my son’s school and they accept everyone, including some kids he wishes they wouldn’t!

    1. That’s so great! Consider yourself fortunate. I have a hard time with overcrowded public schools that get no money to hire additional teachers or build more space so that they could potentially accommodate every kid in every club because so much of the money in our city is now diverted to corporately run, for-profit charters.

      Fortunately our school is incredible at making sure there are lots of options for every kid. And I think in this case, because it’s competitive, there is a requirement that the participants are focused and disciplined and can handle teamwork.

      (But my mom would agree with you that there’s plenty of time for try-outs and disappointment once they hit junior high.)

      1. Well, it’s more that the robotics club is by far NOT the most popular club. And they certainly don’t have it for elementary school. It’s a combined middle- and high- school team. (My husband wishes they could cut down on the middle schoolers who are more distractions than help.)

        1. Our club actually includes kids in 3-5, but compete against middle school kids which I think is awesome. Definitely not about winning, but about trying. (Although sometimes they win!)

  5. Hooray Thalia! What a huge accomplishment. Now could you please invent a dishwashing robot? Thanks!

  6. Congratulations to Thalia! I hope this is a great experience for her and that next year more of her girlfriends will know how fun and cool robotics club is.

  7. Didn’t Einstein say that genius was 1% inspiration and 100% perspiration? Or was that Woody Allen? Or did I just watch Thalua commit to that alleged aphorism by believing in herself, taking untold numbers of chances, and still remaining the gloriously smiling., family-loving child she is? Yes, it was indeed Thalia.

  8. FIRST is a great program. We didn’t have Lego League in our area when I was growing up, but I was on my high school’s FIRST robotics team (and was team captain) for all four years of high school.

  9. Hey Liz!

    Congrats! Hearing this story makes me long for the day when Ajax starts picking loves of his own and working for them. Super proud of you and Thalia!

  10. Oooh how cool! The boys are taking STEM class next week….and they love Minecraft too. They have a small group of friends from all over and they’ll get on Skype and play together.

    1. We may have a few more to join Jaden. I bet your kids are so terrific at it!They’re such smarties.

  11. CONGRATULATIONS, THALIA! Hooray for following your curiosity and finding a place to nurture it. So, so, exciting. And I just happen to know a girl who’d love to talk Minecraft and digital art with you.

    1. Thank you Asha! I know your approval would mean so much to her. And she’s LOVE to talk Minecraft with anyone, any time – but especially girls who know enough not to fill her amazing, gigantic roller coaster cart with lava and burn it to the ground. that’s all I’ll say.

  12. Congratulations, Thalia! That is awesome. STEM is fun! Even after all these years, I still love the thrill of building something.

    My kids have two parents who can help with STEM interests. Between us, we have pretty much every STEM subject covered. Except geology. We’re a little weak there. And so, of course, my 7 year old is a whiz at languages and loves to do gymnastics and cheer. I, on the other hand, barely made it through the language requirement at my college and am the least flexible, least coordinated person you can imagine.

    So far, she likes math and building LEGO, too, but she shows no interest in our school’s LEGO robotics teams. We’ll insist she get the skills to set her up for future interests in any field… but we’re letting her choose her own extracurriculars. So cheer is in and robotics are out, at least for now.

    1. I know it’s hard to watch your kids choose paths different from the ones you love. But cheer and gym and languages sounds like a great combo to me.

  13. I love the sound of robotics club! My little lady is not quite 1, but I hope to foster as much independence, curiosity, and creativity in her as your little girlie possesses. Three cheers for her acceptance letter!!!

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