(This post is sponsored by Target.)
This is my 7-year-old child craning his neck to see what’s on the television screen I’m watching, while he plays on my laptop.
It’s his preferred state of being, and I take full responsibility. I’m not sure what was in the bowl in front of him, but probably extra-dye M&Ms coated in high fructose corn syrup and then rolled in crunchy sugar crystals. He’s a growing boy.
I kid, but there are some screen-related things I don’t obsess about. I don’t worry that he’s becoming stupider, and I don’t mind that his heroes include robot trucks. I do care about spending enough time together engaged in non-watching activities, and making sure he’s hitting all the developmental marks along the way. We’re great on the reading front (relief), but he’s never been very interested in making things.
I grew up covered in glitter and Elmer’s Glue, but Hank can’t be tempted. We once gave him a giant activity book, which he read cover to cover, and then wandered away from it. He won’t even use safety scissors to sneak away and cut his own hair. This didn’t worry me much, kids have different interests, until he came home from school one day and said that he’s not good at art as the other kids. Aw man.
Time to get more serious about glue stick practice and Scissor Holding-101. I thought for a while about how to get him engaged for more than a few minutes in a way that wouldn’t leave him disliking art more than ever.
Hank has always been into science and robots, but lately he’s been interested in a very specific type of robot. So when the Tooth Fairy brought us this killer book called Welcome to Your Awesome Robot, I suggested maybe, we could, you know, make a Transformer.
If he wanted.
Optimus Prime is listening. Proceed.
You have no idea how hesitantly he engaged with this tape, my friends.
But he got into it! We built for a couple of days, and I encouraged him to come up with his own ideas and build things himself.
Innovations include, this sign that warns you not to stick your face too close to the input flap, lest it be chomped off.
Here is our threat monitor, which indicates when it’s time for the Autobots to roll out.
In the middle of drawing an arm hole, Hank said, “Mom. Building robots is SO. MUCH. FUN.”
Truth. And then we jumped around for a few minutes, because I’d been waiting seven years to hear something positive about cardboard and pipe cleaners.
We added party hat receptors, and a view slot, and an Optimus Prime sword, which makes very convincing robot sounds and doubles as an interior light source.
This photo is exactly what I thought it would be like to be a mom.
But what does it transform into?
“A fort! … can I play iPad inside?”
Sure, little guy.