Cardboard R&D

Turtle has a stuffed elephant named "Heffalump" (after the character in the Pooh movie).  I was informed Sunday night that Heffalump needed a motorcycle.  ASAP.  

Huh.  Okay...well, let's see...(how will I pull this off?)...let's go look in the project closet...

20 minutes later, we had ourselves a motorcycle: 

Turtle suggested breaking fat crayons to make the axles.

I made cardboard nuts to hold the axles to the bike.  

It worked well enough that Turtle deemed it wheelie worthy.  

Then we tested it with Heffalump, who isn't the most natural of riders.  But he held on okay for a few laps before spectacular failure of the front wheel...

Luckily, this design is easy to reassemble, so it kept up with another half an hour of play. Then, as suddenly as the idea had been sprung on me to build a motorcycle in the first place, I watched Turtle take it apart and start folding up the body.  "What are you doing?" I asked with more than a little frustration, since I had made most of the major engineering and assembly contributions.  "I need to crumple this.  It's not working very well.  Heffalump is too fat for this motorcycle."

I have to say I love the "I need to crumple this."  I'm thinking of using it at work to reduce my paperload.  

Backtire walked in during the crumpling and witnessed this exchange.  Being the real engineer of the family, he jumped right in with "No problem.  That was just a prototype.  We tested it and it wasn't good enough.  We'll have to build another one someday that fits Heffalump better."  And with that, we did some recycling and the motorcycle was no more.  

But now I find myself wandering the house thinking about how to improve our prototype.  

And I think this small experience held some great life lessons:  When you have an idea, pursue it.  When you want something, try building it yourself.  When things aren't working, don't be afraid to take them apart and try it differently. And, don't get married to your work. Sometimes you need to just crumple it.  


Who Is Spare Mindy?

It was long overdue.  I retrieved the small cardboard box from Turtle’s closet and opened it.   

There she was, swaddled in two layers of clear plastic – Spare Mindy.   

She’d been shipped to me by Fisher Price, who I called in a fit of parental anxiety.  At 18 months, Turtle had become attached, taking her everywhere, chewing on her head, and sleeping with her each night.  That Halloween, we drove back from the pumpkin patch with my sister in the backseat, trying to make small talk with her nephew, quizzing him about the doll’s name.  “Min – daah” he babbled randomly.  "Oh, Mindy!  That's a great name!" his Aunt deftly responded, keeping the conversation going.  And thus the doll became Mindy.  

Prior to becoming a parent, I thought it was ridiculous that parents would buy multiple extra copies of a favored toy just in case one was lost.  Loss is a part of life and I figured that kids needed to learn to get over it.  Plus, how indulgent and consumer-focused, right?  And, I didn’t want to have that five year old who drags around some filthy stuffed animal everywhere we go, so why start now? 

So, it was with chagrin that I found myself calling Fisher Price coveting a spare Mindy.  Who, by the way, is actually named Mia and can only be purchased as part of a set along with her traveling companion Roberto and the nameless red-headed female pilot of the Fisher Price plane. 

But prior to becoming a parent I didn’t understand that your kid can get so attached to a toy, derive so much security from it, and will only fall asleep if it is there.  That sleep deprivation and a desire to control what precious little you can about your day, and especially night, with your toddler can compel you to obtain a spare “lovey” (I hate that term) attachment object (not much better)… Mindy. Parents, you understand, right?

When I started this blog, we were in the throes of separation anxiety and 4 a.m. wake-ups.  A year and a half into all-consuming parenting and 6 months after a major move, I knew I needed an outlet and to try to slowly recapture a little bit of me.  The blog was a place to reflect on my life from a short distance away.  To be able to see myself calling Fisher Price and laugh at the irony.  To grapple with how much parenting had changed me and accept that I had become someone who would not feel better until I had a Spare Mindy in the closet.  Spare Mindy is a metaphor for all the crazy crap you never thought you’d do that you end up doing once you have a kid.  I’m sure I will have thousands more Spare Mindy moments as the years go on. 

Predictably, Mindy fell out of favor some months after I ordered the spare and her status for the past year has been reduced merely to chewed on and mostly ignored airline passenger who occasionally takes the school bus or is tied to a race car careening around the living room floor. 

So, when doing a major overhaul of Turtle’s closet a month ago, I took out Spare Mindy’s box and set her free.  It felt good as a mom to realize that I didn’t need her anymore. 

When I unwrapped her and offered her to Turtle, his response was utterly devoid of emotion and inarguably logical:     “I already have that.” 

Does anyone need a Spare Mindy?