On Wednesday last week Harriet had a friend over after school. The two of them were outside writing, planning and blocking a play they were going to present for the adults at pick-up time. Ted was busy 'helping' and being involved as a character in the play, leaving me inside able to check my email. I had been sent a link to a video which has since gone viral.
Of course Rube Goldberg machines are nothing new in this house. Harriet, but particularly Ted, have had an ongoing affinity with this video for many a moon.
Knowing how much the children love a good RGM, I decided to do the almost unthinkable - call them in from play in order to show them a video. In they trotted (looking highly quizzical) and I played the video for them.
The three of them watched it in complete silence and didn't move for the entire clip. As soon as it finished, Harriet and her friend turned to each other and immediately, without a syllable of preamble, began discussing what materials they could use and where they should start the machine. As they walked away Ted trotted off to the lounge room (also, miraculously, without a word) and pulled down Mouse Trap and set it up (on his own for the first time!).
The two girls didn't have much time left together that afternoon, but they managed to create a little RGM with an abseiling squeegee, wooden plank dominoes, a lever with fulcrum and a basket full of marbles. Awesome! At the end of the playdate they couldn't stop talking about all of the remaining ideas they had left to fulfill.
Discussions were had at school. Planning was made. Playdates were arranged. And come Saturday, along with a killer hangover for James and I, Harriet's friend arrived armed with multiple objects just breathless with the expectation of being transformed into something bigger and better than it could ever be on its own.
A little history - a few weeks ago we had been walking home from school when I chanced upon a pile of furniture and detritus outside a block of apartments. In amongst it there lay this pallet which had four castors attached. Well being the type of person I am, I picked it up and popped it (well, wrestled it) into the back of the car. I'm sure the child we were giving a lift home to that afternoon thought I was a little strange. My two were, however, thrilled at this new addition.
So when the playdate began that Saturday afternoon, it transpired that there were engineering plans afoot that sprang directly from the RGM experience of the other day and had morphed into the plans Harriet has for building a rollercoaster in our backyard this summer (inspired by the story of Amelia Earhart who built one in her backyard when she was around ten, I believe). The pallet-on-wheels was now to become the sit-in buggy for the rollercoaster.
Of course to ensure it could withstand the potential G-force issues involved with the rollercoaster it had to have a few test runs at speed. Downhill speed. So off we all trotted down the road to our local park.
Conscious of the fact that I was supposed to be the responsible adult with the care of another's only child, I suggested that they trial the buggy on a grassy hill. The friction from the wet grass and soggy ground created a dismal failure. So it was on to the cemented pathway nearby.
I sacrificed my own first born as the guinea pig, and then felt safe allowing my charge to give it a trial - stopping was the best part. She survived and then the discussion and jostling for places, combinations and experimentations began. I sat right back and didn't involve myself in any way, except to push when all three of them wanted a turn together.
As with any new instruments, adjustments were required.
New locations were sought but none provided quite the safe thrill as that first hill provided. The walk home was peppered with discussions of additions and future engineering requirements to be used for the rollercoaster. I can feel a new routine being added to my summer routine - a scan for power tools over the ground when rain looks likely.
And as if to herald the oncoming season, the two of them got right down to some serious water fun as soon as the buggy was safely put away.
I can't even say it started innocently enough. It was just mayhem from the get-go.
Only one more week of school. Yay!