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Monday, January 15, 2007

The super collider in my basement

Maybe I'm just being territorial, but I tend to think of maintenance of the basement and the garage as being outside of mom's domain. In the grand scheme of home ownership, these are traditionally male-dominated realms holding little attraction to the female, save for a way to get in and out of the car without traipsing through the elements. This, of course, is particularly important when one makes the morning school drop-off in slippers and PJs.

Yesterday, as I surveyed the damage following a double sleepover, I decided I couldn't take the mess. At one time, the basement was a little boy playroom, replete with Legos and Hot Wheels and army dudes and trucks and Little Tikes gear. Today, it is fast-becoming a teen hangout — Xbox, sofa, weight-lifting bench, card-playing table, treadmill and a never-ending bucket of basketballs and footballs in assorted sizes and states of inflation.

As I stepped on another piece of plastic I-don't-know-what, I yelled, "That's it!" to no one in particular.

Of course no one budged to discover the source of my exasperation. It's just as well. I grabbed the vacuum and set about trying to get some order. But as I turned on the vacuum I was nearly blown back by the debris ricocheting into and out of the sweeper. What the heck is on this floor?

Soon, however, I discovered the source. In the back room known as "Dad's workroom" (an oxymoron if ever there was one) I found on the workbench a hammer and various old VHS tapes and Hot Wheels cars that had been smashed to bits.

In effect, we had our own little super collider experiment right in our basement. At first I was furious at the destruction. What were they thinking?

But then I stopped and had to switch over to little boy brain. Since we no longer own a VHS player (and we're way too old), there would certainly be no need for "Elmo's World." So let's find out what's inside a tape. Yeah! That's what we'll do.

SMASH! "Cool. What else can we smash?"

"How about this car?"

"Sweet! Find some other stuff."

I'm no eyewitness to this event, mind you, but if I had to guess, the person leading this "experiment" would be Patrick. He's the mechanical one and finding out how stuff works has always been a fascination. But the fetcher of items to smash would have to be Michael. As the youngest, his job is two-fold — errand boy and lookout.

And Ryan? Well, I'm sure he was watching ESPN while all of this was unfolding and probably said something like, "What are you idiots doing?" That's if he realized it was happening and he certainly would not have moved from the sofa to find out.

It's a mystery as to when this happened. They weren't smart enough to clean up the evidence and I tend not to get into the basement (other than my laundry room) very often. So rather than start pointing fingers about who did what (little boys can be like dogs, they don't remember the stuff they did so it's no use bringing up ancient history), I calmly asked them to clean up the debris in the workroom. With wastebasket held by one, the other swept it all into the trash. They never even mentioned the source of the debris or why they were being asked to clean it up. Maybe it was just a consequence of their sleepover. Maybe the old lady is just crabbing again. Either way, she's got that face going so we just better do what she says.

Later on, I laughed as I tried to picture them with hammer in hand. Fortunately, the safety goggles were out, too, so someone (Patrick, I suppose) had the foresight to protect his eyes.

I suppose I should applaud their curiosity. I mean, they could become physicists and take their smashing of items to the point of discovering the key to string theory.


Jeff Hess said...

Shalom Wendy,

I remember the what's inside? phase, but for me it was break out the screwdrivers, not the hammer.

Putting stuff back together and then making it work was the real fun because it meant I knew how something did what it did.

Perhaps it's time to think of buying a real tool box for your son on his next birthday.



Wendy Hoke said...

Hi Jeff,
Actually, my middle son does have his own toolbox -- a better one than his father. He's one of those kids who can build amazing contraptions out of K'Nex or Legos. In this case, he never got past the "let's see what's inside" phase.
Be well,

Jill said...

Jeff (my husband) would have been right in there with them!