Long ago, when there were no such things as cell phones, video game consoles or electricity, we had to find ways to entertain ourselves.
Sure, I tried whacking my brother with a stick. I tried shop-carting down a hill. I even tried to build a raft and sail to the US. But one thing I fell in love with was modeling. Maybe it was the glue. There’s a good argument to say I was pretty much high most of the time I was modeling.
Wait, you know I’m talking about plastic miniature modeling, right? And not Fabio modeling cuz that’s another story all together. So, to clarify, for whatever reason, I loved to make models.
I built tanks, mostly. A few planes. A few ships. Hell, I even tried to build a 19th 3 deck ship-of-the-line, but got defeated by all the rigging. It looked like a spider had gotten massively drunk and spun a web of chaos from mast to mast.
Then, for some reason, I destroyed most of my models. I still can’t explain why. (See the whole ‘glue’ thing.)
But this year, I bought The Youngest a model tank. He’s all into a multiplayer video game, World of Tanks, and I thought, hey, wouldn’t it be a cool thing for us to do together. You know, build something. However, I’ve learned from my youth and we’ll be making our tank in a very well ventilated place. Sadly, that’s the kitchen, and we may end up gluing cookies to our fingers or serviettes to our heads, but that’s ok. That’s part of the fun, right?
I bought him a Churchill VII for anyone who cares. It’s his favourite tank in the game, and, being 9, he’s a killer on the battlefield. It’s like those little fingers and that tiny developing brain were designed by God to rule the console. He absolutely slaughters me in NHL16. And he’s earned epic medals in the tanking game.
So why not tear him away and get him doing something… constructive.
Here’s our strengths.
Him: he reads instructions really well. Really well. I do not. My building of anything Ikea looks more like someone just shot a tank shell into a book shelf. Plus, somehow I always end up with a good dozen pieces left over (which is why I never got into car restoration.)
Me: I’ve done it before. I know the ins-and-outs of how to build a model. Not everything fits as it should. Not everything will glue to what you want it to glue to.
Him: He’s got small hands and keen eyes. He’d be a superstar in some workshop in the 3rd world where they make miniature doggie go-pros or something. I think we could have sold him for mad cash. But here in the 1st world, he should have no problem attaching that headlamp the size of an ant’s butt-hole onto a plate of sloping armor. Me? I can’t see well at the best of times and while, long ago, I could paint the eyes on a 1/72nd scale soldier, now I can barely read without a magnifying glass and the light of 10,000 suns.
Me: I am surprisingly patient when modeling. I can’t explain why it drives me nutso-beserko to stand in line for 2 minutes at Save-on, but I can play with little pieces of plastic for hours and not get my heart-beat above near-death. I think it’s about living in the moment. I hear such a thing is awesome.
So, between the two of us, we should be able to gett’er done.
And last weekend, we began. He, being a titch less patient, wanted to rip all the parts off their sprues, but once I showed him each part had a letter and a number, and the instructions would tell you where they’d go, he put down the parts and began to read what goes where.
His special ability was amazing. On model instructions, as on Ikea, there’s often lots of arrows going in lots of directions. But he wasn’t fooled at all. He read every direction perfectly. I was stunned. He’s 9.
After an hour, we had a lot of small bits put on big bits. He had more glue on his fingers than on the tank, but that all comes off and was not really unexpected. It helped that I bought a glue applicator designed for kids. It looked like someone had stuck a needle in a glue container, but it allowed only a little out at a time, unlike when I was doing it when it would look like an explosion of something gooey and messy.
Yesterday, we build the tracks. Now if you’ve ever seen a Churchill tank, (and I know pretty much 100% of you have), it’s a massive undertaking. But, again, he rocked at it, and, unlike most of the hours on most of the days, he spent that hour sitting still, concentrating on what went where, and telling me all about his tanking experience.
“Joe, did you know I blew up 7 tanks in my last game?”
“Joe, did you know I’m probably the best Churchill tank player on the server?”
“I did not know that.”
“Joe, did you know that I once destroyed a guy two levels above me?”
“Joe, did you know that if you shoot at the lower glacial plane on a tiger, you can penetrate it with AP?”
“Ah, what? I mean, right. Sure. I knew that.”
Apart from the actual building of the model, this time with him is awesome. We talk about nothing important and everything important. We laugh when we goof something up. We share thoughts about tanks and games.
It’s magical time. And I feel so very blessed to have that with him.