Friday, October 07, 2011

It is so wonderful how you learn from your kids.

In a conversation with “the boy” this morning, we were

discussing his future entrepreneurship as an inventor. His latest addition to his creative repertoire:

Frog Suits.

Yes. You read that correctly – frog suits.

Evidently (according to Sam), frog bodies do not have enough protection. Therefore, they need utilitarian suits in which to better defend themselves from the perils that are associated with being tiny thin-skinned amphibians. A brief description follows:

-Primarily made of metal

-Plastic (not glass) helmet shield “force field” for the head (see-through, so you can tell it’s a frog)

-Jointed arms/legs so the frogs are not “stuck like they are dead”

-Heart replacement device in case they die (or “croak”—har har—I added the pun myself)

-Mechanical gloves that will allow frogs to move their fingers

I asked Sam just how many frog suits he thought he would need to make. His first guestimate was one hundred. After pondering for a moment, however, he realized he would need more like “a billion trillion” to cover the demand of all frogs on the planet.

Sam then commented that his room would be his workshop. I said it would probably need to be more like a factory since there would be such a high frog suit output. I also recommended that he consider hiring a helper/employee:

Me: You know; that’s a lot of frog suits. You might need someone to help you make them.

Sam: Like an automaton?!!

Me: Or a human friend…

Sam: (silent for a moment)….. Maybe Cameron (a friend from school). But I will have to tell him how to do it because he is not good at it.

We were almost late to school this morning as a result of this conversation. But I felt it was worth it. I found it to be sooooo fascinating. It was so the masculine version of my own fantasy life when I was little. Where I was thinking about unicorns and sparkles and rainbows as a child, my own child is thinking about turning frogs into cyborgs.

But even more interesting to me was Sam’s response when I suggested he might need human help with his proposed endeavor. He was reluctant. He didn’t think his friends would have the mental or inventive wherewithal to be capable of such a task. He was the expert, and the only one who would know how to do it right.

I remember playing unicorns on the playground with my friends when I was little. I was forever exasperated because my playmates were constantly failing to live up to my vision of the perfect unicorn life. “You’re not whinnying right!” and “You’re not galloping pretty enough!” are a couple examples of “helpful advice” I was
constantly dishing out in the schoolyard.

I look back at those years with complete embarrassment. I was a bossy jerk of a child. And I kind of knew it. Thankfully, however, my long-suffering friends loved me enough to stick with me in spite of my officiousness (some of them may actually even read this!). But honestly…I did not set out to be a third-grade fascist. I had my idea of how things should go, and I knew that if I could just transplant my brain into the brain of someone else, they would see just how brilliant my imaginings really were. I desperately wanted the world to be shiny, rainbow-y, and gorgeous. And I had nowhere else to look outside of the people closest to me. But they were just people and they were definitely not making my vision happen.

I feel sorry for Sam because of this. I see how unique he is, and he is definitely showing signs of feeling emotionally isolated. I see just how similar he is to me. But maybe he will be different enough to not be disappointed when the world doesn’t go his way. Maybe instead of retreating out of frustration, he will really come up with ways to make the world a shinier (more robot-y) place. And maybe he will learn to adjust when other kids aren't exactly how he wants them to be.

Maybe I will grow out of it someday, as well.

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