I'm Lindsay Ferrier, a Nashville wife and mother with a passion for family travel, (mostly) healthy cooking, exploring Tennessee, and raising kids without losing my mind in the process. This is where I share my discoveries with you, along with occasional deep thoughts, pop culture tangents and a sprinkling of snark.
January 21, 2013
Shortly after my son turned four, he began asking his dad to build him a robot.
Of course, my husband said yes, picturing a Lost in Space-style creation they’d fashion together in the garage out of a few cardboard boxes, duct tape, and silver spray paint. But my son had something different in mind.
The robot would be named ‘H.I.,’ Bruiser told us. He’d be made of aluminum foil, soft drink cans, plastic box tops, old berries, burned-out light bulbs, toilet paper rolls, and anything else my son found and deemed appropriate for his “wo-bop projeck.”
Soon, my son’s room began to look like it belonged on a TLC show called Child Hoarders. Nothing, and I do mean nothing, could be thrown away if Bruiser decided it was H.I.-worthy. Popcorn kernels. Corks. Gatorade bottles. Rocks. Dead batteries. Egg cartons. Peach pits. These things and more littered every available surface of my son’s room. I’d try to get rid of as much of it as I could while he was at preschool, but he quickly caught on to what I was doing and took to digging through the trash in the kitchen whenever I wasn’t looking, replacing all that had been taken away.
I gritted my teeth and tried to bear it, sure that after a few weeks, the H.I. obsession would end and Bruiser would be on something else. Instead, the opposite happened.
The legend of H.I. grew.
H.I. would be no ordinary robot, my son assured us. He would eat food like a real person! He would swim underwater! He would fly! In fact, H.I. could be programmed to do anything Bruiser wanted! H.I. would make toys! Every toy Bruiser had ever asked for! Especially the $399.99 Starship on the last page of the LEGO catalog!
“When are you two going to build H.I.?” I asked my husband one day with a smirk, after Bruiser told us excitedly that H.I. was going to be able to make brownie sundaes.
“I’m trying to put it off for as long as possible,”my husband muttered. “He’s going to be so disappointed.”
“I know,” I said, shaking my head. “It’s probably a good idea to keep H.I. a fantasy.”
In retrospect, I wonder if on some level, Bruiser thought so, too. Today, a year and a half later, H.I. is still a regular topic of conversation– but while my son often brings up the idea that one day, he and his daddy will make H.I. in the garage (and he’ll FINALLY get all the toys and brownie sundaes he can handle), he’s never actually made any effort to pin my husband down to a date for the robot’s construction. This is unheard of. Bruiser is our walking calendar; he’s all about time, date and location.
Over time, I began to suspect that H.I. had become my son’s El Dorado– a suspicion that was confirmed just a few weeks ago. On that night, I heard loud wailing from Bruiser’s room about an hour after I had put him to bed. I went upstairs and put my arms around him.
“What is it, Bruiser?” I asked him. “What’s wrong?”
“I don’t want to die,” he sobbed. I hugged him more tightly. We had this night time conversation every few months. I remembered feeling the exact same way at Bruiser’s age, and I knew very well that the prospect of going to heaven wasn’t any real comfort to a five-year-old. But I did what I could.
“All of us will go to heaven,” I told him, “and we’ll be together forever. And you’ll be able to run and never get tired. And you’ll never have a bedtime again. And you’ll never get sick, or hurt, or sad.”
“I want to stay here,” he insisted. “I don’t want to go to heaven and I don’t want you to go to heaven. I want us to stay here together.”
“Heaven will be better, though,” I said. “We’ll be together there.”
“I want to stay here!” he said. Suddenly, he stopped crying and looked at me, wide-eyed. “H.I. can keep me from dying!” he said. “I’ll make H.I. keep me here! He’ll keep us all here!”
“I don’t know,” I demurred. “I don’t think H.I. can do that.” This H.I. thing was going a little too far. And yet, is there any such thing as too far when it comes to comforting a five-year-old who’s afraid of dying?
“H.I. can do it,” my son insisted. He lay back down, a brave smile on his face. “H.I. will keep me on this planet.” He sighed and closed his eyes. “Good night, Mommy.”
“Good night, Bruiser,” I said, wiping the tears off of his cheeks.
After that incident, I decided to let my son believe in the powers of H.I. just as long as he needs to. I’m also thinking now of having my husband build an H.I. for me, too. Mine will do housework, play games with the kids, and spit out hot, calorie-free McDonalds french fries on demand.
I’ve even started saving my Diet Dr. Pepper cans and dead batteries. Oh yeah. This robot is going to be GREAT.
Image via Sean McMenamy/Flickr