Backyard Hot Tub

Almost every day, my four-year-old son comes up with some elaborate schematic for a machine he would like to build or project he has in mind. He wants his mum to help him make his vision a reality. He then becomes irate or choked with tears when I cannot make whatever it is “real.”

One of the most beautiful qualities of small children is their absolute faith that their parents are master engineers or rocket scientists, when in fact they almost failed Grade 10 Science. I love that Bean thinks I could ever, in this current incarnation, build a robot out of odds and ends we have lying around the house. But it’s also super frustrating to get him to understand why it is not physically possible, as he screams at me in rage.

As a toddler, heck, even six months ago, he was easily pawned off with a facsimile made out of cardboard and his imagination filled in the rest. But now he wants his devices to have fully functioning capabilities.

On our recent trip to Florida, he got on this kick about wanting to build some sort of cannon, that would launch cannon-balls at targets, and I suppose, make them explode. The last bit was hazy. My long-suffering mother spent an hour making this contraption out of a wine box, vacuum hose, golf balls and duct tape. Bean was thrilled! His evil plan was nearing completion! But then. It didn’t actually work. It wasn’t real. Tears were shed and then lots of disappointed shouting.

The very next day, he again drew up a blueprint for a machine. But this one would be a spraying machine that could knock houses down. It had to spray some sort of material which would make the house collapse. He and I constructed it out of an old water bottle with holes poked in the lid. We decorated it. We took it outside to trial our prototype. I “sprayed” it at the house. Of course the house refused to collapse properly, in fact didn’t at all. Bean was upset. NO! he shrieked. You have to make it ACTUALLY work! We spent a very long time discussing why this was not possible. In the end I got annoyed and did some shouting of my own.

Not all of his wacky plans are demolition-based. One day he got very upset because he wanted to visit a pool and go in a hot tub. It was a Sunday night, so I explained that all the pools were closed. Without missing a beat and sniffling away, he suggested that we could dig a hole in our backyard and fill it with hot water. I gently explained that it was March and the water wouldn’t stay hot in the freezing ground. He thought we could cover it with some wooden boards to keep the water warm. I explained that the ground was frozen and impossible to dig a hole in anyway. This last bit finally convinced him that his hot tub dreams were not to be. That day. But oh when the ground thaws…

There have been so many times that his inability to accept reality vs. his fantastic plans has driven me nuts. I have been badgered for over an hour to “buy some wood” and help him build a house in the yard. He once wanted me to suspend his cardboard-box house from the ceiling for him to sleep in for the night. I did let him sleep in it – on the floor, once he accepted that it couldn’t be hung up.

Of course, I want  to make his dreams come true, and whenever possible, I try to. I love how imaginative and creative he is and I don’t want to quash that. I like to think that these designs are forerunners of actual, functional plans he’ll devise as an adult. In his future career as a rocket scientist?

He’ll have to pass Grade 10 Science though.

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