Some Assembly Required

“Is the police car fixed,” my son asked me.

Everyday this week.

I tried explaining to him that the car wasn’t broken. It was a model kit with dozens of pieces. Many of those pieces were tiny like hubcap covers and side mirrors.

The box indicated that the kit was for kids eight and older and that it would take an hour and 25 minutes to to complete.

So I figured it would probably take me double that amount of time.

We received the kit nearly two years ago. It was a gift for his first birthday.

Too young for it at the time, I put it in a closet hoping it would never see the light of day.

But last week he got into the closet and came across the kit.

Now I could see the excitement on his face every time he asked me about the car’s status.

Apparently happiness can come in a box.

At first I tried explaining the difference between a model kit and all his other cars and trucks. I told him we needed to find the time to put the car together.

But he has no concept of time.

So I decided that I would get him a small police car that required no assembly.

The next day he asked me to go out and get him a police car.

On the seventh consecutive day asking me, I finally had enough.

I took out the box and started putting it together.

I love the idea of working on projects with my son, but I’ve never had the patience for these types of crafts.

Besides, he wasn’t interested in spending time assembling a model. He just wanted the car.

“Put the wheels on,” my son said as he held up the plastic bag containing four model tires.

It took every ounce of patience to keep putting the model together with my son giving orders just a half an inch from me.

I showed him the instructions and told him that we had to assemble the car in a certain order. That included all of the interior details like the seats, steering wheel, and tiny dashboard computer.

I tried to focus on the instructions and match up the pictures to the actual pieces in the box. I looked at the top of the box where ‘8+’ mocked me as if it had conspired with my son to get me frustrated.

I thought about the Marx brothers joke where Groucho, looking over plan details, claims that a “child of four could understand it.” Then turning to his assistant he said, “Quick, run and get me a child of four I can’t make heads or tails of this.”

If I could have outsourced this to an eight year-old, I would not have hesitated. But we continued making progress.

At halfway done we had to go back two steps when I realized that the very tiny side mirrors needed to be installed when I snapped the seats into the frame. Otherwise, the mirrors would fall out. It took several tries holding the mirrors in place with one hand while trying to get the seats to snap into the frame. All of this without breaking any tiny pieces.

The further along we got and the more it started to look like the car, the more impatient he got.

As we neared the end I had him help me attach the siren and add the stickers.

Incredibly after only about an hour and 15 minutes I handed him the car. His face lit up as he drove the car on the table making siren noises.

I just watched him and smiled.

I guess happiness can come in a box.

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