Friday, March 22, 2013

How's It Work?

It was late at night, my husband was getting the coffee maker ready for the next morning, my younger son was snoring from his bunk, and I was waiting for everything to quiet down so I could watch The Walking Dead in solitude from under my blanket.  My 6th grader came out of his room whining about his frustration with homework which should have been completed hours earlier.  He wastes so much time arranging the perfect Pandora mix, looking for comfortable headphones, and getting his drink situated in the right place on his desk between piles of crumpled papers, Boy Scout patches, and his hatchet (yes, he really has a hatchet on his desk but that seems like a whole other post).

I offered to help with whatever offending worksheet was causing this night's duress.  He set down his paper and grabbed his pencil to begin and I had to do a double-take.  He had a mechanical pencil which had been deconstructed and reconstructed from various other pencils.  It was a lovely multicolored creation now, but most importantly it was missing the point that holds the lead in place so that you can write.  "What happened to your pencil?" I asked.  "I took it apart to see how it works and lost the top".  He didn't seem at all put out by this even though he was attempting to draw a straight line against a ruler with just the lead guiding him.  Really?

Boys have to demolish things to check 'em out and see how they work.  Never mind that the object might not go back together the same way ever again.  I'm thankful that we haven't lost any large electronics (yet) to this phenomenon but I know other families who have.  Cause and effect experiments.  My brother placed one of those reusable plastic frozen cooler packs in the microwave and nuked it when he was younger.  This was back in the 80's so I still cringe at the thought of some blue radioactive gel oozing out of a first-edition microwave that scattered who-knows-what kind of particles everywhere.  Here's the kicker: he forgot that he was conducting this experiment and went off to do some other boy thing and left it there for our mom to discover.

So as parents we try to find a safe way to channel this "build and destroy" drive.  Enter - Legos.  Man, I wish I had bought stock in this company before I even thought of having kids.  We have so many bins of minuscule plastic blocks throughout our house.  And the marketing department is genius!  Back when I was a kid you had one big box of multicolored Legos  and you built one thing and then took it apart to build the next thing.  Now you buy one box, often with hundreds of specific parts to make one object, which either gets displayed on a shelf, or stepped on and never put back together again.  Have you ever stepped on a Lego?  It sends a shooting pain up your leg like nothing else except maybe stepping on a sea urchin, and I pray never to have that personal experience.  My vacuum has picked up so many unseen pieces (that I'm sure were essential to some creation) and the horrendous knocking sound always alerts me to the fact, but you don't think I'm opening up that bag to hunt around for a piece of plastic, do you?

It's even gotten to the point where my boys fight over individual pieces.  "That part came with my Ninjago Garmatron and I need it!" "Nuh uh!  It goes to Vizsla's Mandalorian Fighter!"  Seriously people.  They can keep this stuff straight, but can't remember whether they ate lunch today or not.  Zack is thinking of becoming an architect one day.  Let's just hope he keeps his parts in order.

1 comment:

  1. Yeah... no way of telling what ELSE might be in the vacuum cleaner bag!!!