Monday, November 19, 2007

How low can I go?

At dinner last night, Jacob told me that he was going to build a robot to clean the house. My internal smartass (or maybe jackass would be more appropriate) rose to the surface and choked off the more sensitive aspects of my personality. "If you can build me a robot that cleans, I'll buy you a game console." That got a blank look, so Nick chimed in with "Nintendo!" Jake squealed, pushed his plate away, and leaped into action. That is the point where I should have stopped the train. Instead, I kept concentrating on my yummy sausage.

A few minutes later, Jake headed up the stairs. I manage to wrest my attention away from the keilbasa long enough to tell Jake to stay out of my toolbox and have a follow-up argument about exactly whose toolbox it is. For the record, it's mine. He stormed back downstairs. I passed up yet another appropriate moment to end the farce. Instead of coming clean about the probability of Jake actually constructing Mr. Clean, I suggested that Jake draw up some plans first.

A few more minutes later, Jake thrust a page ripped from a composition book under my nose. I glanced down to see a stick figure with a broom in one hand and a mop in the other. By the time I looked back up, Jake was sitting in the middle of the living room floor with a pair of scissors deconstructing a Diet Coke box with cartoonish speed. I foolishly asked him what he was doing and he said, "I'm making a motor for my robot. I really want that Nintendo."

My heart sank from my chest down my left leg into my pinky toe. "Um, Jake? You know that you can't really make a cleaning robot tonight, right? Robots take a long time to make. You need to learn about motors and stuff first. I'm sorry. I was joking when I made that promise and I thought you knew that." Jake threw himself onto the couch and sobbed. Before I could say or do anything else, he threw himself back off the couch and screamed at me. I couldn't even process what he was saying - I was too upset with myself for letting the whole joke get out of hand, or really, even for making the stupid joke.

Nick heard the screaming and thankfully put two and two together. He took Jake upstairs and they did some robot research online. Nick pointed out that no one had ever made a robot that can clean every mess, not even engineers with tons of experience. Jake came downstairs calmer, if no less angry with me.

Jake and I talked a bit more and came to an understanding of sorts. We're going to build a robot together. Maybe not a cleaning robot, but some kind of robot. I know next to nothing about motors and moving parts. I guess I'd better get to learning.


cheribear said...

Oh, Christy! Don't feel bad - this is the same boy who recently penned a letter to the building commissioner asking for permission to build a garage. He dreams big and isn't afraid to jump in and get started - you sparked his imagination and that's a wonderful thing! Have fun with the robot-building!

Kelley said...

We once made life-sized robots out of styrofoam packing materials. Nonworking ones, of course, but they looked cool.

Poor Jake! Poor you, too.

Jen said...

How fun! Too bad you live in MO, I'd love to make a robot with Jake! I think they make kits for building your first robot. What kind of robot are you thinking of?

Mary Witzl said...

I know how you feel!

When my youngest was four, I jokingly told her to get into her birthday suit at bathtime one evening. She got all excited about her birthday suit and when she finally found out what I meant by it, she had an absolute fit, complete with screaming, pummelling the floors and walls, etc. You have to be so careful with the jokes you tell, but who has that sort of sensitivity all the time?

Just think what a wonderful story you will have for him one day. Save it for when he has his first girlfriend over...