I bet that somewhere in the back of your mind you recall a certain mirror made in 1937…
Now behold mine and my young son’s most ambitious crafting project to date, our own magic mirror. Took us about a month to complete after spending two weeks learning the basics of the Arduino customizable circuit board.
Ingredients: homemade wooden case, old laptop, old flatscreen monitor, Arduino with proximity sensor and potentiometer (you know, a knob), two-way security mirror, lots of paint and plastic gems. More at creator Al Linke’s site http://www.diymagicmirror.com.
Success. In-home telegraph, phase 1, complete. It’s a project with my 5-year-old son. He explains.
A Shaheb’s Guide to India
How a simple father-son craft project became a global, epic diorama
Five years ago this month my wife Bidisha and I got married a full Hindu wedding in India. Four years ago our son was born.
This past Thanksgiving while carving the turkey at our Philadelphia home I got to the bone that my granny from rural southwestern Virginia used to save and make into a turkey bone Santa sled decoration at Christmastime every so often. It’s a morbid Appalachian thing, you wouldn’t understand. In a fit of nostalgia I decided I’d give it a whirl and introduce my young son to a part of his cultural history.
To make sure I was really remembering correctly I Googled “turkey bone sled” and one of the first things that came up was someone’s Pinterest page about turkey bone sleds with the header, “My granny made these.” Yep, I was on the right track.
My son and I often do multi-stage, multi-day art projects so I told him we were going to embark on this “small” project. I’m thinking the whole thing will be five or six inches long with a couple of ceremonial reindeer pulling it but he insists that it be the full 9 reindeer, and that there be a full moon, and a Pleiades star cluster (the Seven Sisters), Aldebaran (the brightest star in the constellation Taurus and one of the bull’s eyes), a small pine tree like the one we have in a planter outside our house, and our street sign, and snow on the ground, and hovering in the sky above Santa there should be Kartik. Without missing a beat I told him fine but that he’d need to design it on paper first so we’d know exactly what we were making and not leave anything out.
Kartik? That would be the Hindu god Kartik, less famous brother of Ganesh. Kartik is the Pete Best of major goddess Durga’s children. I later learned it’s impossible to find an altar figurine of just Kartik alone, so I convinced him instead to CONT’D at medium.com>>
My son’s multiverse of alternate realities crossed into the real world in a remarkable way.
My 3-and-a-half year old son is among those many toddlers who live in numerous alternate realities at once. In a sense, so do I. I’m, bi-urban, teaching in New York City and in Philadelphia. As a writer I am also often working on multiple projects at once for vastly differing audiences. When my son’s not at daycare or cooking something up in his kitchen, he works in “my New York” and “my Philadelphia” as he calls them. These are different cities than the ones I know and love.
“Hey Pop. In my New York, red means go and green means stop…Hey Pop, in my New York, I have a baby daughter who just turned 21.” In his Philadelphia, he teaches college courses in museums and in making drinks. My wife is a biologist who works in the Philadelphia suburb of Spring House, which must seem to him a distant, fantastical place. One of her coworkers is named Eric. “Hey Ma, at my Spring House, I also have a friend named Eric but he’s no the same Eric.”
Not surprisingly, he has gravitated toward Dr. Seuss from among the many children’s authors at his fingertips. He’s obsessed with crunk cars and wonders when we’ll be able to all take a ride together in a zumble zay or make quick exits by ejecting ourselves out of a gazoom. He’s watched the original Cat in the Hat animated 1971 TV special ad nauseaum and loves to sing along to the complicated lyrics of “Calculatus Eliminatus.” This past Halloween he decided to be The Cat in the Hat and insisted that my wife and I dress as his oversized Things 1 and 2.
A neighbor asked me how I felt about my son’s “telling stories” about his fictional New Yorks, Philadelphias and Spring Houses, suggesting that we were encouraging him to grow up to be a George Costanza; a neurotic, emotionally immature, chronic fibber who has trouble facing real world problems. I countered that my wife and I heartily encourage his colorful imaginativeness. Rather than scold him or nudge him back to Earth we ask ever more probing questions during one of his increasingly fantastical yarns, seeing just how far will his racing young mind carry him as he speaks extemporaneously and thinks on his feet.
Then again, perhaps we’ve given him a little too much imaginative freedom for his own good. His multiverse reached its zenith recently when it crossed into the real world in a remarkable way that left me flabbergasted. (continue reading…)