Note: this article was originally posted on 7/31/2008, when my son was 4 years old. It came to mind last night while I was busy repairing a toy for my youngest daughter, who is also now four. Times have changed, but the theme remains the same. I have re-posted with a few edits. Enjoy…
Yesterday my son brought home a little plastic magnifying glass that he had been “rewarded” as part of a summer reading program at the library. He had his little heart set on a “bug cube” for weeks, but apparently changed his mind after his sister and another girl chose “grab bags”. Of course, life has taught most of us not to gamble what you have in hand for that which you cannot see. I believe the folk saying is “a bird in the hand is worth two in the bush”. Having not yet learned this lesson, he traded his little cube for the promise of a grab bag.
Life lessons are funny things. Certainly we’ve all had them over the years. But I never thought my heart would ache for a little guy who chose a grab bag over a bug cube. You see, while my daughter’s bag was full of neat little bendy toys, my son’s bag contained a cheap plastic magnifying glass and a compass ring. And that’s all. What’s worse, while innocently playing “detective” at the store with his magnifying glass, the handle broke. He enjoyed his reward for all of a few hours before insult added to injury. Thankfully, his sister chose to give him one of her bendy people. Now that’s love!
It’s an old cliché that many dads fix everything with duct tape. Unfortunately, I’m not that talented. It sticks to itself. It sticks to me. I end up using twice as much as I need, and rarely get the results I’m seeking. But you see, I have another weapon which has resulted in the misguided opinion from my kids that I can fix anything: Superglue. I have diminished several tubes of this magical resin over the past few years, and have actually gotten some pretty amazing results. The stuff really is good (though not much fun when your fingers are stuck together)! With it, I have swelled with pride as the smiles returned to the faces of my children. Daddy fixed the toy! Disaster averted, tears forborne, superhero status claimed!
So with my son’s little magnifying glass in hand, I retreated to my hero’s lair (a.k.a. my garage) last night to restore what usefulness I could to this cheap little vessel of spying greatness. I did my best to reconnect the pieces with my “magic glue”, but the results are still out. I did the best I could, but it may not hold for long. Any doctor will tell you that you can’t always save the patient. What matters most is that you tried. But perhaps there will be enough life in this trinket for one more adventure, and one more smile.
Of course, I realize my “hero” status is dubious, at best. As the kids get older, they’ll realize that daddy can’t really fix everything (something my wife has already tried to convey). They’ll realize my “magic glue” is available at most stores for just a few bucks, and they can use it themselves if necessary. They won’t even need me to try and fix things. But regardless of that, hopefully the sense will stay with them that I just might have that ability, even without the glue. And I know some things, like broken hearts, cannot be mended with glue. But if things get too broken, hopefully they will know they can turn to me for help. Disasters will be averted, tears forborne, and superhero status reclaimed.