A little backstory here- Manning had his belated birthday party yesterday. He had his favourite friends come bowling with him. They made up silly names for the bowling team (….Mia was known as “Bowling”, K was known as “Weirdo”…there was a “Unicorn” and “Jurassic” and others) ate pizza and cake, crawled around, and had a ton of fun. He was spoiled rotten by his friends with creative prezzies (he is such a crafter and do-er!) and he’s been in absolute heaven. One gift, however, had him in tears today. Manning is very determined, and clever. He can build anything, with or without instructions. It blows my mind. His ability to self regulate, however….is non existent. So as long as everything goes as planned- we can keep it together. But if even ONE thing goes even remotely wrong or not how he expected it to- meltdown city.
…..Let me paint a picture for you. I’m going through my drawers and closet to put together clothes to donate. I’m just grabbing and tossing into piles and he’s happily playing with some new things. He’s chatting and smiling and excited. I leave the room to grab something – and I hear plastic clatter on the floor. Something hard is whipped at the wall, and the box is whipped out into the hallway. This is accompanied by a shrill screech of distress, name calling of the activity, and then a lot of self doubt. You may think this meant it was a write off- right? Most would say- ok. We are packing it up, and you can either do it later or we get rid of it. In our house, however- when someone is distressed out of frustration, we guide them through so they can ride the wave. I went over to him and sat on the floor. I said – wow buddy; this looks so cool! What does it do? How can I help you do it?….he continued his self destructive spiral of self doubt and hyperventilating and attempting to destroy the pieces. I gave him a tight squeeze (he is a vestibular seeker and loves deep pressure and touch) had him breathe with me for a few really deep breaths, and then looked up the tutorial video, printed on the box. They messed up too! It didn’t work every time! They had to keep trying! Seeing the struggles, he was able to laugh with me a bit. I asked if he was ready to tackle it together. He reluctantly agreed……2 hours later, and we still hadn’t had one successful chain reaction. TWO HOURS. If he hadn’t been in the room- I would have smashed that toy to smithereens and thrown it out the window while screaming profanities all the while. He agreed to putting it away (for now) and trying again another time. We are determined to get it to work….I mean, it has to be possible.
I love the fact that it’s an educational toy. I really do. It follows the S.T.E.M principals (science technology engineering and math) which tends to be a system (with Toys) that wins my vote. Hell- I recommend toys to people for a (partial) living. But I swear, to all that is holy. If you are going to buy one of these chain reaction activities for someone’s kid- you best be sending a bottle of wine (or vodka) to go along with it. Hell- offer to drink WITH them; while you watch the kid try to put the thing together. If you want to see what you it is; and see us in action- go here: Watercolored Life on Facebook. We did a live video for part of the adventure. And Eileen – the concept was incredible. He loves the activity. It has all of the things he thinks is amazing (a balloon, building required, chain reaction, and a car that can ‘race’) seriously- hit the nail on the head……however, unless you want to come build it with him- you owe me some cocktails. You should come over, with the kids- we will stock up on Palm Bays (….I remember ;). ) and they can be engineers ….verging on murderous psychopaths. Don’t worry though- I only have foam swords in my house.