One day this week, I went to the basement to take care of the cat boxes. I had an empty plastic bag in my hand; it was rustling and I was doing my normal “sing my way through the house” thing. It was pretty obvious that I was coming, so I am not sure why I surprised W when I entered the basement hangout. But I did.

“Oh, hey there,” he said, a tone of I’m not doing anything I shouldn’t be in his voice. He had quickly put his hands in his lap, removing them from the counter where he was working, and I sensed he was trying to hide something.

I glanced at the computer screen. It appeared that the computer was off, but since I had been singing, I decided to ask, “Are you talking to someone?” He often comes to the basement to FaceTime with his father or his cousin.


“What’re you doing?”

“Nothing,” he replied, still watching me with an overly guilty look on his face. He did not resume whatever activity he was involved in before my arrival to the room. I studied him for a long moment, but I couldn’t figure out what he was up to, so I went about my business scooping the litter box. But then, something bright yellow caught my eye. His nerf gun sat on the counter in front of him, in the beginning stages of dissection. With all of the projects, pieces of projects, and electronic components on the counter, I almost missed it.

“Got a project going there?”

“Oh,” he said, looking down like this was the first he’d heard of it. “Yeah…. I’m trying to automate my nerf gun. And make it faster.” He grinned.

“Hmm,” I replied, my tone remaining matter-of-fact. I have learned over the years to maintain neutrality whenever possible. In the back of my mind, I always keep a thought of the Radioactive Boy Scout and the ways in which projects can get out of hand, just as a reality check. Really though, it’s a nerf gun. “Do you think you can do it?”

“Yeah.” He paused. “It does say here, ‘do not modify darts or dart blaster.’ But… you know.”

Yes, I do know. If you are a boy who likes to figure out how things work, if something can be taken apart, if there is even the possibility that it can be modified (and improved)… well, why not?

Carry on, then.



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