Archive | April, 2013

Gak Attack!!

29 Apr

letter want to know a dirty little secret? (I ask this question of every new patient I get in the office between the ages of 11 and 14) Before I was a dentist I was a middle school teacher. “Really” they say, eyebrows raised.

“Yep. 6th, 7th and 8th grade science. So tell me, what sort of stuff are you doing in science in school right now?”

The dumb kids always say “Uhh… I don’t know”. The smart kids always have an answer,

“Well, yesterday we were reading about cell division… I think it’s called mitosis.”

“Oh cool!” I say as I look over their Xrays to see if they even know what floss looks like. “So tell me, what’s the difference between prophase, metaphase, annaphase and telophase?”

At this point their eyes go wide as if to say “Oh crap! I wasn’t expecting to be quizzed on science when I came in here.” Needless to say I don’t let ’em off the hook until they at least *try* to answer the question. Yeah, I was that kind of science teacher.

I make no effort to hide the fact that if I won the lottery tomorrow I would sell my practice in a heartbeat and spend the rest of my days teaching middle school science. Other than being a dad, that is what I was put on this planet to do. Why then, you might ask, am I doing crowns and fillings instead of teaching class? I’ll answer that one later.

***

Last Friday was my day off. (I mean really, what self-respecting dentist works on Friday?) Every other Friday I do the parent-volunteer thing in Episode IV’s classroom… and every other every other Friday, her teacher lets me teach science.

IMG_3358

Awesome teachers deserve more credit than they could ever get in a lifetime.

I’ve been teaching science in my daughter’s classroom since her kindergarten teacher found out I used to do it for a living. Generally the teachers are just so grateful to have someone (a “real” scientist) teach science, they’re happy to just turn me loose and give me the kids for an hour. UnDorkMommy is happy to point out that they don’t have to twist my arm too much. I usually work up a fun little powerpoint, get out my laser pointer and put on my white lab coat. It’s become such a regular thing that when the kids see me on campus on a non-Friday, they ask me with excitement “Are we doing science today?!”

brusha

February is National Children’s Oral Health Month. Teaching them to brush and floss.

We’ve done everything from disecting owl pellets, to lessons on camoflauge, to oral healthcare, to the bones in the body, to weather, to the planets in the solar system. When I came in a month ago we learned about states of matter and I brought in a block of dry-ice and made HUGE dry-ice bubbles with a store bought bubble set that the kids got to pop in spectacular dramatic fassion. Then, we went outside and explored solids/liquids/gasses by doing all sorts of craziness with mentos and diet cola. (if you don’t know what happens with mentos and diet cola, do a YouTube search and prepare to lose the next 1/2 hour watching awesome science) By the end of the lesson I had 30 1st graders out on the playground, drenched in diet cola, chanting “SCIENCE!! SCIENCE!! SCIENCE!! SCIENCE!!”

This past Friday the topic was “polymers”.

gak

Now before you roll your eyes and think “Polymers? 1st graders? Really?” I must say that as a committed science teacher I firmly believe there is no scientific concept too complicated for any mind to absorb. It’s simply a matter of the teacher breaking it down appropriately into bits and pieces that are digestable for the intended audience. Science is all about understanding. Teaching is all about communicating. Not enough scientists are teachers (and far too many who aren’t have classes to teach). But just in case you’re getting lost in the scientific weeds, let me put it another (less scientific) way:

This past Friday the topic was “GAK!!”

Really, making gak is as simple as linking polyvinyl alcohol monomer (Elmer’s glue) with aqueous boron (“borax” laundry detergent). That, and a little food coloring, makes some pretty awesome slime.

For those of you who want to try it at home, don’t even bother getting the Borax. Just mix in a little liquid Tide with the Elmer’s glue. It’s easier, and the result is fluffier, slimier slime.

Needless to say I spent a little time before the experiment teaching the kids what “mono” in “monomer” ment, and what “poly” in “polymer” ment. Then I drew a few polyvynyl alcohol molecules on the whiteboard and showed them how the boron linked them all together, and they were with me the entire way. Secretly I wished the Principal had walked in at that very moment to see a room full of 1st graders doing very real organic chemistry.

slimy

Gak-tastic!

For two years now Episode V has watched me go off to his big sister’s classroom to teach science, and he’s heard all her classmates spill out into the playground at the end of the day talking about how exciting it was. This week, during the buildup to the gak experiment, the frusteration in his affect was palpable. He wanted to be part of the scientific awesomeness, but sadly I wasn’t going to his pre-school. This was a 1st grade lesson. “I wis I was seven” he said as I practiced the experiment the night before. “Then I could be in 1st grade and do cool science too.” What he didn’t know was that this time, special arrangements were made.

The next morning, when I threw on my white lab coat and got all my supplies under my arm I walked to the front door to head over to the school and said to Episode V “What’s the matter, buddy? Why aren’t you in your clothes?” He just looked at me, confused. “Go get your clothes on, quick! You’re coming with me today. You’re going to do science with me and your sister in her class today!”

Eyes wide with disbelief, he dashed off to his room to throw on his clothes. He’s never dressed himself so quickly and as a reward, for two glorious hours he got to be a real, live, 4-year-old first grader in his big sister’s class doing real science with his daddy.

Can you spot the hidden 4-year-old 1st grader?

Can you spot the hidden 4-year-old 1st grader?

***

If I love teaching so much, why am I a dentist? It certainly isn’t my dream job, but I definitely don’t hate it. Heck, I may even enjoy what I do. But why do I do it? I do it because it enables a dream of mine that is much more important.

When I was a young man I knew that whatever career path I took, I wanted to be a dad. And I knew that in order to be the sort of dad I wanted to be, I needed to have a job that, if at all humanly possible, gave my wife the option to stay home with the kids (if she wanted) and, if at all humanly possible, gave me the latitude to video tape ballet recitals, coach little league, and volunteer in the classroom.

And so here I am a dentist, because among other things, being a dentist means I have a little extra time to give my family.

And the old saying is just as true as it is corny:

“Children spell love ‘T. I. M. E.'”

-Dork Dad

Walking On Air

23 Apr

letter So my daughter and I built a hovercraft this weekend.

<<pause for effect>>

I can’t even tell you how cool it feels to be able to write that sentence with a straight face. No kidding. We built a hovercraft… together… a real, working hovercraft… in the backyard… that works… together.

If you do a quick google search you’ll quickly find that building a backyard hovercraft isn’t as impressive as all that. There are a thousand “how to” guides out there, most of which can be boiled down to:

“Get a 4′ circle of plywood, a leaf blower, a garden chair, a coffee can lid and a shower curtain. Put ’em all together and you get a hovercraft.”

The entire endeavor doesn’t cost much more than $150 (and the better part of a day… which could cost you alot more if your wife was counting on you helping with the kids). I’ll spare you the step-by-step which, in truth, could be pieced together on your own from the pictures.

stuff

The salient point here is that this weekend my daughter and I built a hovercraft together in our backyard.

I don’t think I’ll ever get tired of seeing those words in print.

Our nextdoor neighbor wandered over towards the end of the project to see what all the commotion was about. “Wow,” he said. “A hovercraft. Why? Is it a school project?”

Nope. No school project. No scouting badge. We built a hovercraft just because we could.

gorilla

As I’ve said before, on projects like these I go out of my way to make sure that the kids do as much of the work (with my guidance) as possible. So I was keen to get the powertools into my daughter’s hands. These are, of course, important life lessons. It’s easy to take measuring-tape-fluency for granted, but for a 7-year-old, managing that thing can be a little tricky. Pulling out the perfect lengths of gorilla tape… putting marks in just the right place… figuring out why plumber’s tape looks nothing like scotch tape… These are all very profound for a 1st grader. Then there’s the powertools. She loved the jigsaw and the staple gun. The power drill was tricky, but she got the hang of it with my help. The skillsaw though, that was just a little too intense for her.

It was a great opportunity to teach a little safety, and send a great message:

Powertools are for girls too.

Of course the real benefit of the whole experience is not having a working hovercraft to ride. The real value is in the time spent together. She’s growing up too fast. Her social schedule rivals my social schedule in my 20’s. When she’s home her younger brothers are constantly in orbit and her friends are starting to have more daily influence on her than I do. In short: she and I needed this.

That, and now I can say we built a real hovercraft in our backyard.

But more importantly, she can say it too.

 

 

-Dork Dad

 

You’re The Fun One

18 Apr

letter This weekend UnDorkMommy said something to me that broke my heart.

First, a little context:

Three days earlier I came home late as I always do on Wednesdays, just as the kids were finishing up books and snuggles before bed. We’ve recently been edging ever closer to finishing “Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban” (remember, you can’t watch the movie unless you’ve read the book first). They can taste the finishline (and a new movie to watch), so they’ve been extra-special excited about bedtime reading lately. On Wednesdays UnDorkMommy has to handle the bedtime routine alone, and of course part of that is reading books to the big kids. We got the kids all tucked in and sat down to touch base as husband and wife. “So, how was your day teaching?” she asked.

Finishing up "Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone"

Finishing up “Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone”

“Fine, fine,” I replied. “Were the kids good tonight? How far did you get in Harry Potter?”

“We didn’t read Harry Potter. We read something else.”

“Really? Why not?”

She looked at me with disapointment in her eyes. “They told me they don’t want me to read Harry Potter to them anymore because I don’t do the voices like you do.”

***

For a little more context, fast forward to this Saturday:

This weekend was the local Mountain Bike Fair. We live in an outdoorsy place, so mountain bikes are kindof a big thing. It’s the sort of place where parents post on facebook “Just took Jr. for his/her first time on the pump track!” (For those people out of the know, a pump track is a dirt track with mounds, and moguls and banks etc). There’s a bike store near our house with some amazing pump tracks out back for all levels. We pass by the tracks whenever the family goes hiking and I’ve used the pump track as an incentive for the kids to learn how to ride their bikes.

“As soon as you’re good enough on your bike, I’ll take you to the pump track.”

Six or Seven months ago Episode IV finally got off her training wheels, and we’ve been working on getting her competence and confidence up to pump track levels. A few weeks ago Episode V finally got off his training wheels and we’ve been practicing out at the park every opportunity we get. To spur his interest and get him motivated I took him out to the Mountain Bike Fair to watch the pros go flying into the air X-games-style. I expected we’d be there about 30 minutes before his attention span puttered out and we’d be off to the next thing.

Nope.

So. Freaking. Rad.

So. Freaking. Rad.

It was like walking into Disneyland for the first time. We weren’t there for 5 minutes before he spotted the bunny-hill pump track just for little kids that they built specifically for this event. That was that. We walked back to the car, got his bike out of the back and three hours later we’d watched the pro aeronautics, gone on the kids’ pump track (twice), ridden a real off-road trail, checked out all the vendors, sat on a hay bale eating pizza and popsicles watching a racing event, and acquired some impressive sunburns. In short, it was amazing! He even got a medal. Episode V and I came home totally pumped (no pun intended), totally exhausted and totally overstimulated.

“OhmygoddidyouseethewaythoseguysflewintheairIcan’tbelieveyoudidthepump-trackforthefirsttimewasn’titawesomeIcan’twaittogodoitagain!!!”

We spent the second half of Saturday at the park with the whole family. The two big kids practiced off-roading on their bikes with me coaching and cheering them on, and UnDorkMommy spent most of her energy keeping Episode VI from eating sand and getting run over by his older siblings. By the end of the day everyone was exhausted, and all three kids went to bed relatively easily. After Episode IV was asleep, my wife came down the hall and walked up behind me as I was checking my Email. She put her hand on my shoulder. I could tell something was weighing on her heart. That’s when she said it.

“You know, sometimes it’s really tough” she said, a tremor in her voice. “…keeping up with you. Sometimes it’s really hard. You’re the fun one. I just can’t compete with that”

I had absolutely no idea what to say.

I wanted to say something comforting, something reassuring. I love her so much. I could appreciate how she was feeling, and how an idea like that could hurt once it took root. I wanted to be there for her – to say something meaningful that would put her at ease, reaffirm how amazing she is, how amazing and important she is to the kids. I should have been able to do that for her. But the words… the idea behind them… and the notion that I could be the root of that pain…

I fumbled.

There is no way anyone could describe UnDorkMommy as anything other than “fun”. She’s incredibly fun. She just isn’t a dork. She has no idea how to be a dork. It just isn’t in her DNA. Before we had kids she used to make fun of me and say “Man, you are a dork!”

And I used to respond with, “Yep. But someday our kids are really going to appreciate it.” It would seem that perhaps that prophecy has come true.

Sorry, kids. This is your daddy.

Sorry, kids. This is your daddy.

Let’s be clear, my wife is the most important, most amazing, most crucial element of this entire family. When I’m off figuring out how to get an arcade game into my house, she’s the one making sure the kids are having a healthy lunch. When I’m spending my time writing blog posts, she’s the one arranging their extracurricular schedules. She’s the one who makes sure they have a sweater when they leave the house. She’s the one who makes the sandwiches for their lunch just the way they like ’em. She’s the one who plans and makes dinners every night. She’s the one who gets them on time to doctor’s appointments, and swim lessons, and play dates. She’s the one who makes sure the milk in the fridge isn’t sour. She’s the one who makes sure their bedsheets are clean, that they take their medicine and that they play nicely with one another.

She’s the last person the kids want to see before they go to sleep. She’s the first person they want to see when they wake up. If they have a bad dream in the middle of the night, it’s her body they need to feel next to theirs that makes the monsters go away (and all that stuff goes for me as well).

Sure, I’m the one who does the epic lego marathons. I’m the one who knows all the words to all the Disney songs. I’m the one who does the lightsaber fights and dances to “Gungnam Style” in the livingroom. But when there’s a scrape on the knee, it’s her kisses that have the healing magic. On a rainy day it’s the cookies she makes that turn everything around. When someone is sick, it’s her arms they crawl into for comfort. She is the rock-center, the core, the heart of our family. She nourished those children in her belly. She birthed them. She nursed them as infants from her own body. She dedicates every waking moment to nurturing them as children and to helping them grow into compassionate, confident, amazing human beings.

How can I compete with that?

The truth is all this dorkiness, all this childlike buffoonery… it’s all for show.

I’m a dancing bear at the circus making a fool of myself in front of my children because — That’s. All. I’ve. Got.

It’s a desperate act to be relevent in the lives of my kids because ultimately the short-lived sugar rush of dessert isn’t what sustains you the way Mommy’s healthy meal does. It isn’t what keeps you alive. Sure, I have my role to play in nurturing our children. Sure, their lives are enriched because I’m demostrative, I’m involved in their lives and I’m totally invested in the family. Yes, their lives are immeasurably better because I love them so much.

But compared to the absolutely crucial, nourishing, healthy, dependable, selfless love that they get from their mother — the nourishment that none of us in this family, myself included, could live without — I have to put on the superhero T-shirts. I have to build the zip-lines in the backyard. I have to make the Transformer Halloween costumes from scratch. I have to do the voices when I read Harry Potter.

Because in all honesty, compared to my wife, I just can’t compete.

mommy

-Dork Dad

Virality

16 Apr

letter I made a deal with myself when I started blogging: If I ever blogged about blogging I was going to hang it up. Surely that would be the harbinger indicating I no longer had anything interesting to talk about, at which point I should graciously bow out of the game entirely and fade into history, as opposed to joining the Kansas City Chiefs for a couple lackluster final blogging seasons *coughjoemontanacough*

20thingsdaughterRecently the “20 Things A Father Should Tell His Daughter” post from a few months ago went completely (and unexpectedly) viral, and some pretty rewarding things happened as a result. Just this once I’m going to break my blogging-about-blogging rule and share a little about the experience. There’s a really cool family-related story at the end, so I hope you’ll stick with it.

***

I’ve always wondered what it would be like to create something that went viral (shout-out to my buddy Ron Fugelseth, who’s “A Toy Train In Space” set the standard for dorky-dad virality) – not out of some self-centered egomaniacal trip, but because the mechanics of virality (is that even a word?) fascinate me. If I was a sociology or media-studies grad student I would make that the topic of my thesis (tip-o-the-hat to fellow dadbloggers Ande Davis and Zach Rosenberg who have strong feelings about the value of a liberal arts degree).

Using my blog as a vehicle I’ve made a few half-hearted, cartoony things that in the back of my mind I thought had the potential to go viral. Over the 2012 holidays I put this one out there, quite impressed with myself and my own cleverness:

Know your Elves.

Know your Elves.

Dobby-the-House-Elf

How could I forget Dobby?

…until I realized what an epic fail it was because I neglected to include this culturally-critical elf. Virality-factor: zero.

When Muppeteer Jerry Nelson (Count Von Count) and Neil Armstrong died in the same week, I pushed my graphics skills to the max and put this one out there in cyber-space.

RIP Jerry Nelson, Anakin Skywalker, Yoda, Ben Kenobi, Neil Armstrong

RIP Jerry Nelson, Anakin Skywalker, Yoda, Ben Kenobi, Neil Armstrong

Perhaps the Jerry Nelson reference was too obscure. Again, virality-factor zero.

Over the holiday, while blogging about how I ordered my children’s Xmas gifts from the Skymall catalogue from the back of an airplane seat, I riffed off of the latest James Bond movie with this little ditty, again completely impressed with myself and convinced that other people would be too:

James Bond in "Skymall"

James Bond in “Skymall”

Virality-factor, 00-nothing.

Of course you can’t will these things into virality. It has to happen on its own – organically. Dorkdaddy.com has had a few brushes with virality in the past. The first was January last year when Adam Savage retweeted a tweet I sent him about a post I wrote talking about science programs on TV. 1,700 hits on the blog that day. I thought I’d died and gone to heaven. Then, earlier this year, WordPress.com featured (freshly pressed) my post “It’s Just Sex, Dammit!” on their home page and suddenly my iPhone exploded with a constant stream of comments from dawn to dusk. Just under 3,000 hits that day and I was sure my little blog would never pass those numbers. Then last week, this happened:

stats

Before this week the range on my hit-counter graph never needed to go above 3000 before. On Monday, a day when I published absolutely no new material, DorkDaddy.com topped out at over 6,700 hits – completely blowing its previous record out of the water. As the graph shows, most of the hits were happening on “20 Things A Father Should Tell His Daughter”.

To be honest, I knew that post had legs shortly after I published it. Within days it had been shared more than 200 times from this blog’s Facebook page. I was getting notifications that it was moving all over Pinterest and it got all sorts of attention when I published it on Good Men Project along with the companion piece “20 Things A Father Should Tell His Son”.

Then something odd happened. The Facebook page “Ace Your Figure” posted it to their wall, and from there it exploded (Ace Your Figure has significantly more followers than DorkDaddy.com’s Facebook page). Suddenly I was getting messages from friends who’d seen the picture/post months and months ago when I originally posted it “Hey. Check out what came back around the other end of Facebook!!” The picture itself isn’t some stock photo I stole from a google image search. It’s actually a picture of me and Episode IV. Friends of mine who don’t follow the blog recognized the picture from someone else’s news feed and asked me “Hey. Isn’t this a picture of you and your daughter?”

The post had gone completely beyond my sphere of influence and was now freely circulating, completely organically, through the Facebook ether. Even as I write this I just fielded a phone call from my wife. A girlfriend texted to tell her that an old college friend just posted the picture on her Facebook wall, and my wife’s girlfriend recognized me and my daughter in it.

It had gone viral.

***

Now the fact that something I made went viral is nice and all, but here’s the cool story where it all comes home.

Part of the miracle of Facebook is connecting with distant friends and relatives who in the past would have been completely lost to the fog of time and distance spent apart. My mother’s recently been very excited about reconnecting with some distant cousins of hers. It’s opened up a floodgate to wonderful childhood memories and emotional connections to long-passed loved-ones, memories that were heretofore packed away and almost forgotten. My mother looked forward to seeing news from her long-lost distant cousins show up on her laptop when she opened up Facebook.

And then, last week out of nowhere, the “20 Things” picture showed up on my mother’s newsfeed, shared by her long-lost cousin who she hasn’t seen in 30 years. My mother commented on her cousin’s post, “Where did you get that picture?”

“A friend posted it” the cousin replied.

“Do you know who that is in that picture?” asked my mother.

“No. I just liked the message, so I shared it.”

“That’s my beautiful granddaughter and her father, my handsome son.”

“You’re kidding me.”

“No. He’s the dorky dad who wrote that. He blogs about being a dorky dad and that was one of his posts.”

Promptly thereafter DorkDaddy.com’s Facebook wall received this message:

cousin

In what universe does your 2nd cousin once removed, someone you’ve never met or even heard of before, contact you over the internet because of a picture you posted of you and your daughter more than 4 months earlier?

It’s a brave new world. Welcome to the age of social media.

-Dork Dad

Lego Maniacs

11 Apr

letter we have hit the “Lego-stage” in our household… with a vengeance. Ask the kids what the big-ticket items are on their birthday/Xmas wish lists and they’ll tell you “LEGOS!!” It started out innocently enough with the smallest little set, Gandalf riding on his little horse-drawn carriage from The Lord Of The Rings. Who would have known that was the gateway drug that would turn my children into full-on Lego crack-heads? In only a few months’ time we have gone from one little Gandalf set to shelves overflowing with Technicolor bricks, organizers filled to the brim with last week’s epic creative marathons, and a floor littered with choking hazards in every corner (Episode VI always manages to find the ones we miss).

Epic battle between Lego Rancor, Lego Saarlac and Lego Shelob.

Epic battle between Lego Rancor, Lego Saarlac and Lego Shelob.

The truth is I love it. Everything about Legos (except the price) is good. The beneficial lessons a kid learns from a healthy Lego-lifestyle come on so many levels. There’s the manual dexterity, the 3D spatial reasoning, delayed gratification, developing focus, cause-and-effect relationships, organizational skills, following instructions, math skills “What step are we on now, son?”

“Um… 97.”

“Nope. Try again.”

“79!”

“Right! And what comes after 79?”

“um… 80!!”

And if you’re really doing it right, there’s the incredible quality time you get to spend with your children.

Lego Super Star Destroyer

Lego Super Star Destroyer

Recently I indulged myself, and purchased over Ebay (‘cause there was no way I was going to spend the $400 retail) the penultimate Lego set currently on the market, with the intention of slowly working it through with my son (and daughter, if she wanted). At more than 3000 pieces and more than 49 inches in length (longer than my son) the Lego Star Wars Super Star Destroyer is currently the most involved, intricate, high-level Lego set you can buy. Given the fact that Lego suggests it is for ages 16+, obviously a project like this is beyond the scope of a 4-year-old. But after he tore through all his Xmas Legos in less than a week like Dustin Hoffman counting toothpicks, I knew (under my guidance) he was ready for a project like this.

Episode V's Xmas Lego haul. It took him less than a week to finish all of them.

Episode V’s Xmas Lego haul. It took him less than a week to finish all of them.

I told the kids about the project, got ‘em all amped up by showing it to them on the internet, and then waited for the package to arrive.

Lego Super Star Destroyer step 1 of 7

I managed to get the on Ebay for ½ the retail price, with the knowledge that it was missing at least one bag of bricks (7 total steps, each ranging from 3-5 bags of 150 pieces). I took a calculated gamble, knowing that I could use Lego’s brickfinder site to fill in whatever blanks came up. If worst came to worst and we couldn’t finish the project, I bought the kids 3000+ bricks to indulge their creative impulses as their hearts saw fit. I’m glad to say we made it all the way through, with only two hiatuses to order missing parts (spent more shipping the parts than I did on the parts themselves).

Lego Super Star Destroyer step 2 of 7

I made an effort to make sure that Episode IV was invited to participate as much as she wanted. She dropped in here and there to help, but she isn’t the Star Wars nut that my son and I are. She’d rather spend all that time drawing pictures and writing stories.

Lego Super Star Destroyer step 3 of 7

Of course Episode IV caught on pretty quick that I was taking pictures after every completed step. She isn’t one to miss a photobomb opportunity. After this shot she said “Make sure you put this one on your blog, Daddy.”

lego super star destroyer step 4

Look at the incredible detail here. Now imagine clumsy little 4-year-old fingers getting all those tiny little pieces in just the right place. When I launched this project I wanted to make sure that the kids did as much of the work as possible, with my supervision of course. For my son this was as much a lesson in patience as it was in manual dexterity. The thrill for me was watching his light-speed development. At step 1 he would ask “Daddy, can you help me with this?” By step 5 he was pushing me away saying “No don’t help me, Daddy. I can do this.”

lego super star destroyer step 5

Given the fact that the Chief Engineer of this project was a 4-year-old, the entire effort stretched out across a couple months. If he was 16+ it would be easy to imagine a 14-hour marathon fueled by Red Bull (horrible for your teeth) and pizza. But at this age there’s an attention-span factor. He’s 4 years old. We’re lucky if he gets 1 of two socks on by himself before “Oh look, something shiny.” But where this project was concerned he and I regularly sat down for a solid hour, uninterrupted. Try go get a 4-year-old to focus on ANYTHING for a solid hour. The experts will tell you it’s impossible. Apparently all it takes is a Lego set.

6

But the real benefit of this project, more than the developmental skills he grew, was the priceless father/son time. We must have spent 20 hours out in the garage on this thing, just *BEING* together -sharing space, talking, working together. When people say “quality time”, this is what they’re talking about. When we stated I would put my iPhone up on the shelf and stream NPR just to have some semi-intellectual background noise. But when the broadcast turned to Afghanistan I switched over to Pandora. During all those hours we spent alone together in the garage, we spent a good portion talking about The Rolling Stones, The Beatles, Steve Miller Band, Credence Clearwater Revival and 80’s hair bands. Those things are arguably just as important to his education as current events in Afghanistan, and much more age-appropriate.

lego super star destroyer step 7

There came the day we knew we were going to finish. We’d spent a good portion of Friday afternoon leading up to it, and Episode V was up bright and early on Saturday morning peeking through our bedroom door at 6:30am “Daddy? It’s time to finish the Super Star Destroyer.” So we traipsed out to the garage in our pajamas to put the finishing touches on our epic project. I made sure there was plenty of ceremony, taking a picture of him placing the last piece. We all celebrated for breakfast with UnDorkMommy’s amazing special aebleskivers. We then hoisted the completed project up on a shelf in the garage specifically built to house it and the Lego Star Wars Xwing, Ywing and Millennium Falcon that came before, where it proudly sits today.

Oh, and lest you think that Legos are a boys-only sport in our house, let me put that notion to rest. Title-9 is in full-effect in the DorkDaddy household. The only difference between Episode V’s Lego experience and Episode IV’s is that Episode IV is a 7-year-old girl.

She can do it all by herself, thankyouverymuch.

girls too

 

-Dork Dad

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