Monday, October 10, 2011

Inclination to Disassemble

My little brother was inquisitive from the very beginning.  Long before he realized his dreams of being an aerospace engineer, he was taking things apart in order to examine them and discover how they worked.  And long before he was adept at putting them back together, he was not. And that resulted in many, many broken contraptions.  Sadly, one year he disassembled his little magnetic race cars, the remote controlled ones that zoomed along the track and up walls and stuff.  When he put them back together, they didn't work any more. I don't know if my mother ever complained.  If she was anguished by his inclination to disassemble, she hid it well.  All I ever heard her say about her son were words of praise.  Things like, "My son is SO curious.  He is so creative and smart.  My son is going to be an engineer."

This past weekend, I took my little family back to Peterborough for Thanksgiving.  We spent one night at my mother's house with my brother and his wife. My brother, or Uncle Jay as we lovingly call him now, is very good at playing with my son Cole.  At our place, we're always busy trying to get supper on the table or feeding Amelia or cleaning up drool or folding laundry.  But when Uncle Jay is around, Cole just hungrily devours all the attention Jay dotes on him. They play and play and play.

At some point, they had discovered my mother's stash of flash lights and they were playing in a darkened bedroom with them.  Then, suddenly, Cole was upstairs with me in the kitchen with the futuristic flashlight.  The one that works on kinetic energy.  You pump it in your hand and a little magnet inside slides up and down the shaft, through a coil of wires and then the flashlight works. Suddenly Cole was unscrewing the face of the flashlight, removing the black rubber seal and the lens and then all the little pieces were falling out onto the linoleum.  I scooped them up quickly and tried to put them back into the flashlight in the order I'd seen them tumble out, but when I clicked the switch, the flashlight no longer gave light. 

That is when my brother came upstairs.  He took the flashlight apart again and reassembled it.  He asked if there were any other pieces lying around.  And when it still didn't work, Cole began to look worried.  He said to his uncle, "Porpor's going to be mad." Uncle Jay, still examining the flashlight said very calmly, "She'll be alright."
Cole smiled and looked at me and said, "Uncle Jay said she'll be alright." Uncle Jay explained to Cole in a way only his sister could understand, "I took a lot of things apart when I was a kid, Cole.  I broke a lot of stuff." Cole smiled at this reassurance. Then, as if to justify all of the "broken stuff" Jay had left in his wake and all the learning he'd done in his youth, suddenly he reassembled that flash light to its proper working state and Cole grabbed it up and ran off. Sometimes he's so much like my brother that I accidentally call him Jay.  I hope I can embrace his inclination to disassemble as much as my mother did Jay's.

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