I have seen the future, and it comes from the end of a hot glue gun.
Perhaps I should start at the beginning. My son has been trying to figure out how things work since I can remember. Like the time he turned his stroller over so that he could investigate the wheels: What makes it go? For all those years in between, he has dragged home various bits of cars, machines, and electronics with the hope of figuring out how those things work. Maybe if he understood them, he could use the parts to make something better, or at the very least, more interesting.
This fascination has lead to the warehousing of lots of little bits of things that I might mistake for trash. "Don't throw that away, dad." I hear the voice in my head now when I pick up this plastic shard or that light emitting diode. I now tend to make piles and wait for them to become part of something larger. And wait.
This past weekend, I watched him turn a pair of his remote control helicopters into the engine that would run his prototype hover car. He and a friend were working on their school assignment to create a product they would design, market, and sell. I watched them go through a number of failed attempts at getting their dual-rotor system to stay aloft. I knew that all my comments were filtered through the "wah-wah Charlie Brown adult filter," but I tried to get them to recognize that they weren't going to be able to fly their car. They just needed to make it hover. Hence the name: Hover Car.
Working alone on Saturday afternoon, he had his eureka moment. A snapped piece of wooden skewer set at a right angle from the rod that bound the two helicopters was glued into place. Now he had a stabilizer. He was as happy as I had seen him in months. I stopped seeing the pile of scraps and started savoring my son's triumph. Someday he may be designing hover cars for GM or Toyota. Maybe he'll have his own company, supervising a team of engineers. I just hope I will be able to resist the impulse to stop by his office and pick up after him.