Monday, June 30, 2014

lessons from the race track

"i cannot imagine how it is that people find it interesting to watch cars drive around and around in circles."  that was me, ages ago, commenting on a broadcast of a car race. a younger diana and i had stopped for lunch and we were accosted by the sights and sounds from the ubiquitous television.

boy, have i changed.  about a month ago, ander attended his very first live car race. i found it utterly fascinating.

this event had been a long time coming; it's been a year, if memory serves, since ander first showed an interest in cars. it started with lego, as many things do. diana noted his interest and bought him a large lego set with multiple disney cars characters for his birthday.  he started exploring his interest slowly but accelerated quickly, especially within these recent months.  from early builds according to the instructions, to modifying individual models to suit his particular needs, then to building his own creative large-scale set designs that indicated attention to detail and efficiency.  from initially watching the disney cars toons video shorts to re-enacting them as a one-man show to demonstrating an affinity for reading their illustrated stories with great enthusiasm as a budding young thespian.  from repeatedly demanding simply requesting that we buy him another vehicle to learning how to shop around and compare prices and save his money and acquire just the right thing to add to his collection.  from knowing all the characters via youtube to actually watching the full-length disney cars movie and learning the storyline and becoming different characters throughout his day and play, right down to the accents and phrases and quirky idiosyncracies.

i knew steve's dad had been an avid fan of car racing for many years.  so when i asked grandpa if there was some way to meet them at a racetrack, i wasn't surprised when he started doing some research and quickly came up with a small-yet-busy family-friendly location that wasn't too far away for any of us to drive.

i told ander about it and he started counting the days until we'd go, telling everyone he could about his upcoming plans at winchester speedway.

his anticipation for the 3/8 mile dirt track mounted when we parked

he could identify all the construction vehicles on hand and explain their purpose

snacks at the ready, my boys were prepared for the practice laps

enjoying plenty of treats with grandma, grandpa, and dad

lightning mcqueen accompanied ander to this race, so ander had to make sure mcqueen could learn the track

perfecting his flag-waving skillz

grandpa made sure ander got a replica of dale jr's car

grandpa, can i borrow your hat?

beautiful sunset sky over the multitudes of heat laps

checking out the final races
it was an incredible experience. grandpa explained what all the different signals meant and helped us visually locate what had gone awry when the yellow flag came down. we cringed with concern as drivers tried to gain footing on the dirt track and instead got themselves turned around backwards. we cheered for our favorite cars and held our breath as they careened around the turns and flew past the stands at high speed.  i really think it was precisely what ander wanted to experience, and it was fantastic for my first race, too. i do hope it will not be our last.  i am so grateful to my son for being the one to teach me to embrace this whole eye-opening learning experience.

since then, we've acquired hot wheels tracks and a stunt loop and a launcher and a motorized booster. he's repeatedly tested out creative configurations with various vehicles, making modifications in between. he's been open to options and requesting audience approval and participation.  he's learned complex combinations of maneuvers.

i thought this might be the finale of ander's car interest.  after all, he moved on to explore disney planes in nearly the same fashion (but with greater speed and skill).  and if i had posted this back when i initially intended to, that would be that.

but this weekend, he dug into the lego pit and built several new cars. not disney cars or hot wheels. not from a kit. cars of purely his design and invention. and he even gave them model names and numbers in a sequence based on their variations. no, the interest in cars has not gone away.  his time with planes, which now runs concurrently, has actually deepened his interest.

dad gum! only one week into lori pickert's project based homeschooling master class and i am finding successes everywhere!