My Son, the Inventor

On one of my bad days a few months ago, I was reading an article about the benefits to children of living overseas (you know, just to help me feel better about traumatizing them by dragging them around the world). It mentioned a study in which children who had spent significant time in a country not their own demonstrated more creative problem solving skills. I believe it. Constant exposure to alien ways of thinking, unfamiliar expectations, and situations out of your comfort zone does tend to kick the problem solving machine into high gear. I’ve experienced this myself. For instance, since I’m the designated family chef/epicure, I’ve taught myself things like how to cook with local ingredients, and get by with severely limited kitchen utensils.

And my children have learned to get creative with their toys. We do have a collection of travel-friendly toys that we brought with us, but Axa and Dominique spend a lot of time innovating with . . . well, you might call it junk. But they would call it treasure, I think. Dominique is especially good at putting unwanted items to use. For example, here are the binoculars he made several months ago out of a couple of empty toilet paper rolls:

The binoculars were his first creation. Most of his subsequent efforts also involve heavy-duty tape (with which he is usually assisted by Tony), although he has also spent quite a while practicing his own intricate knots with bits of rope and leftover birthday ribbons.

Much of his inspiration comes from Star Wars. One day I heard him making exasperated noises from the other room. I peeked in and saw him transforming himself laboriously into Darth Vader:

Along those same lines, take a look at this:

No, as a matter of fact, it’s not a broken night light halfway covered in packing tape with a pocket-sized kaleidoscope sticking out of it. It’s a light saber, silly.


The light saber can also be worn casually on the belt, along with other essential gadgets.

The structure behind our budding Jedi is a multi-level house that he and Axa built out of the boxes from our new air conditioner units.

Finally, and most puzzlingly, there is this, fashioned out of two nonfunctioning dvd’s and a couple of used calling cards:

When Dominique tried to explain its function to me, I couldn’t quite wrap my brain around it. All he would reveal is that sometimes it can be folded in half, and at other times he uses both sides. I’ve seen it worn as a sort of hi-tech sci-fi breastplate, so there’s definitely more to it than meets the eye.

Move over, Thomas Edison. Here comes Dominique!

4 thoughts on “My Son, the Inventor

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  • November 10, 2011 at 4:36 pm

    My Lydia cut the ends of toilet paper rolls and made them pointed, then affixed them to one of her headbands for her brother Aaron (4). She got a Bavarian dress at a 75% off post-Halloween sale, and decided she would be Heidi, but she needed a goat. It took until supper to get Aaron to answer anything other than “maaa-aa-aa.” We love toilet paper rolls around here, too.

  • July 29, 2011 at 7:55 pm

    Remind me next time you visit to go get some refrigerator boxes. With a couple of those and some of the other things we have around here…. just think.

  • July 29, 2011 at 11:18 am

    This post made me feel so happy that kids are still making up their own inventions — and happy that Star Wars is being passed to the next generation. I also noticed that the lightsaber is blue, which means it belongs to Luke or young Anikin (at any rate the good guys). I also love the DVD thingy– to me it looks like the breast plate that Darth Vader wears which controls his body functions and nervous system. Who knows, it may be the next cell phone?


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