Son #2 is quite a different character from his older brother. We had serious concerns about him at one time. He threw fits. He didn't talk until he was older. He didn't seem to want friends. He was disruptive early in school. We thought we were in for a tough road. I have cried many tears over this child. The word I would have picked to describe him best would have been difficult.
Fast-forward several years. Thankfully, he doesn't throw himself on the ground in public places, screaming. He talks, but still not very much. He's got some really amazing friends and they actually like him. He's a straight A student and the favorite of many of his teachers. I never imagined....
A few years ago, a mom friend of mine asked if #2 would be interested in joining their DI team. If you've never heard of Destination Imagination, it's quite interesting. It's for kids from elementary all the way through university levels. The teams choose from several challenges that vary in subject. There are fine arts challenges, scientific, technical, service projects, and more. They are presented with this challenge and have specific rules they must follow. In the end, they are given 8 minutes to present their solution, typically in the form of a skit. The kids must do everything on their own without help from their coaches. They build the set, make the costumes, write the script, etc. Sometimes these presentations can be horribly boring and make little sense.
#2 ended up joining a team made up of 3 girls and 3 boys. These kids work together so well and really compliment one another. B is kind of the leader of the group and is very technical. C is very organized and helps everyone stay on task. J is silly and outgoing and is a tremendous actress. The other J helps write the script and also acts. F is the muscle of the group and fills in wherever needed. My kid has been elected the narrator of the group. He has a very dry sense of humor and can be quite funny without cracking a smile.
Their first year, they did this presentation that didn't make much sense, but their technical execution was quite clever. They placed at regional competition but didn't advance past states.
The second year, they wised up a bit and their skit was much more entertaining. They built an amazing set, which was the innards of a whale. They had ocean sound effects, lighting that resembled moving water, and a scent that smelled like the beach. They won regionals, states, and advanced to Globals! It was an amazing time!
This year, they chose a pirate theme. Their set looked like it was built by a professional crew. They built a cannon that made noise when it fired (one of the requirements of their challenge), had moving waves in front of their ship, and a sail that showed the results of the sound waves. The girls made their pirate costumes and Son #2 was some kind of nerdy, old man narrator.
At each competition, they also engage in an instant challenge. They are given some sort of challenge and have just a few minutes to execute it. Then they are sworn to silence and can't discuss it until after Globals. Everyone has the same challenge. Last year at Globals, the bombed their Instant Challenge and ended up placing 40-something.
This year, they won regionals and states and headed to Gobals once again. It is held each year at the University of Tennessee in Knoxville. We loaded up the minivans and box truck and hauled all of our stuff down there. The kids miss almost a week of school, which they love, and we have a great time.
This year, in addition to all the DI activities, we went zip lining and horseback riding! Looking back at the photos, I still can't believe I actually did that! It was incredibly amazing! One of the boys wore a Go Pro camera as he zip lined!
Anyway, skip ahead. On the day of our central challenge, we were one of the first of the day. It was early and the kids had to get up super early to have everything ready. We unloaded everything into the staging area and the kids started their presentation. About 20 seconds into it, J froze. She stared blankly ahead, grabbed her head, and stumbled. It seemed like several minutes passed. Finally, the other J just jumped ahead to her line and kept going. The first J snapped out of it and picked right back up. All our kids were shaken. They kept it going but weren't as exuberant as usual. Afterward, J cried and said she messed everything up. She had recently experienced a concussion at a soccer game and we think her momentary blackout was a result of that. The coaches were pretty deflated but the kids really supported her and lifted her up.
Instant Challenge was the next day and our kids rocked it out. They felt like they achieved all the possible points.
Skip ahead to the closing ceremony. The full size arena was packed with over 17,000 people from 17 countries! Each state/country dresses in the same shirt and it looks like a rainbow around the arena. They all wear funny hats that light up and it's an amazing sight when they turn out the lights! We were really hopeful that we might make "The Big Board." The top ten teams of each challenge get their name on the jumbotron.
Challenge B...it was our turn. They show teams 7-10 on the jumbo screen. Nope. Then they show 4-6. Nothing. We were disappointed. We would have to wait until after the ceremony to see our ranking online. Then they announced the third place team. From up in the nosebleed section, we got to hear our team's name and school called out! We placed third!!! Our kids got to run down to the floor and across the stage to receive their medals and trophy! The other parents and I were jumping up and down, screaming! It was an experience I'll never forget! No team in our district has ever placed at Globals!
At the end of each challenge award, they present another award for the highest Instant Challenge score. Again, it was our city and our team! Our kids got to run across the stage for the second time and receive another medal! We jumped and screamed again!
We were on cloud nine for days afterward! We were all over social media, there was an article in the local paper, and a local restaurant awarded our team with an ice cream social! It's like our kids were small town celebrities! It was so much fun and so awesome for my shy, awkward, anti-social son!
A couple days later, I went to DI's website, www.globalfinals.org, and found that our kids were the header picture for the closing ceremony! Yep, my kid is the one in the middle with the crazy hat! I was so proud he wore it on stage! Following are some photos of the week. Thanks for allowing me to brag for a few minutes and share this amazing experience with you. It ranks in the top ten favorite memories of life!