My middle son is a tinkerer.
He likes to take things apart and put them together in new ways.
He hoards random bits of junk, like toilet paper tubes and bread ties. You know, because he “might need ’em sometime.”
He dreams of cogs and levers, and hopes with all his heart that Santa will fill his stocking with masking tape. One of his most favorite birthday presents ever was a bunch of small pulleys and spool of heavy duty rope.
Should anything break he is there to say, “if you’re not gonna use that, can I have it?”
This is the boy who gazed with such deep longing upon an old, no longer in use DISH satellite, way up high on a telephone poll at my grandparents house, that my grandfather could bear it no longer. He climbed a ladder, unscrewed it and brought the thing down.
We hauled that baby nearly 250 miles home, and it now resides beside his bed. He’s still not sure just what he’s going to do with it, but it’s one of his most prized possessions anyway.
So, you can imagine his delight, this creator of mine, when it was suggested that he spend an hour a week with his grandfather, an electrical engineer, making “stuff that really works.”
His Saturdays with Grandfather are sometimes referred to as “Inventor Club” and sometimes “Engineer Club” depending on which monicker holds the most magic for him at the moment.
On their first meeting they built a “Battery Checker.” On the next, they outfitted it with wires and magnets and learned about the relationship between magnetism and electricity.
He’s plumb over the moon. Lit up like Christmas, head to toe, and that’s precisely what matters.
I don’t know if he’ll retain his lessons. I can’t say with any certainty that plunging a curious 6 year old into an early engineering course will land him a scholarship to MIT someday, but I do know that he’s gaining some very important knowledge.
He knows that the people who love him value his passions. He is learning that we will go out of our way to help him find his. He’s growing to understand that with a little work, and some guidance, he really can bring his imaginings to life.
Those are lessons that will serve him well.
Plus, I just think it’s truly priceless, a grandfather passing his passion and knowledge, his craft, down to an eager apprentice. The memories they are making together will undoubtedly be held dear in each of their hearts.
Grandfather mentioned that he might start up his own blog and share their adventures. I told him that I felt sure that lots of you folks would be excited about simple projects for mechanically inclined kiddos. Am I right?
Also, I’m on the hunt for inspiring stories for my little inventor. At the moment, we are reading The Invention of Hugo Cabret
which is wonderful on so many levels, the most important being that it has my man on the edge of his seat, and also asking lots of questions!