Thursday, January 27, 2011

Over to the Dark Side

Our five-year-old son had entered that retro phase of his life.

And by retro, I mean everything that was cool when his parents were young is cool once again.

Such as Star Wars and LEGOs.

And when you put them together you get Star Wars LEGOs. Every young boy’s dream. Which quickly turned into his parents’ worst nightmare.

“Holy cow!” my husband yelled. All heads in the toy aisle swung in our direction as if he’d screamed, “Hey, that lady is naked!” Which, no, has...never...happened...before. So move along.

He gestured toward the no fewer than 356 boxes on the shelves and said, “There are a million of the damn things.”

“Yep,” I agreed. “They moved past the two-color, two-shape style a long time ago. Now, they all come in kits.”

“Kits?” my husband said slowly and looked up and down the aisle. “You can’t buy a box of plain ones anymore?”
Welcome to the 21st century, my friend. It sucks.

I consoled him by patting him lightly on the back and said, “Doesn’t matter. Little Big Guy has requested something waaaaay more difficult than plain old LEGOs.”

Our son had asked Santa Claus in his carefully written letter to please, please, please bring him a specific Star Wars LEGO shuttle.

So here we were, Santa’s Elves, hunting in the toy aisle three days before the holiday, searching for the Holy Grail of LEGO kits.

I pawed through the boxes until finally finding the one our little boy had his heart set on. I reached out and picked it up only to hear my husband gasp in alarm. He reached over, pointed at the box and screeched, “Is that how many pieces are in the box?!”

I looked down to see the number “8096” written on the front. I chuckled as I walked away, “No, dummy, that’s just the model number, not the number of pieces inside. It’s much less than that. Believe me.”

OK. I lied. Fast forward to Christmas morning, and our little boy was in LEGO heaven, clutching the box to his chest and yelling, “We gotta put this together. Like right now! Right now, right now, right now!”

“OK, settle down or I get out the Ritalin,” I suggested. So we sat down at the table, opened the box, tipped it up and half the world fell out.

“Oh. My. God,” I said, jaw dropping at the number of items littering the table.

My husband peered over my shoulder and smirked, “Look who’s the dummy now.”

I reached over and picked up the instruction guide, only to read “Manual 1 of 2” written on the front.

I held it up to my husband and said, “Manual 1 of 2? Manual 1...of...2?! Are you friggin’ kidding me?!”
And, before you ask, no, it wasn’t like Manual 1 was, oh, 8 pages and Manual 2 was 6 pages.


Each one of them rivaled the length of a doctoral dissertation in aerodynamics. I thumbed through the pages, catching glimpses of diagrams, instructions, codes and other assorted information that only a MIT graduate would comprehend.

OK, so the aerospace industry bust from years ago? I know where all the out-of-work engineers ended up.

Screwing with American parents just because they can.

Part of me wanted to throw in the towel right there, chuck the plastic pieces into the fireplace and be done with it.

But then I caught sight of my little boy’s excited face. I sighed. Turned to page 1. And got to work.

Three days, 10 power bars and two boxes of Band-Aids later we finally had the damn thing built.

I basked in triumph as I gently placed the finished shuttle in my little boy’s hands, as if passing along a treasure of great and lasting importance.

He oohed and aahed then ran away to play. All was right in his little world, and I, as Mom, had made it so.
I rock.

And it was a fabulous feeling that lasted all of 4.2 seconds.


I dropped my head into my hands and sighed as little footsteps ran toward me. I looked up to see my son holding his new shuttle, which was - once again - in 8,096 pieces.

And over to the Dark Side I went.

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