It’s been half a year, two hundred and twelve pages of instructions, and 1,297 pieces, but John finally finished his LEGO Cargo Plane.
Insofar as the clone was five years old for most of the build and six years old for the finish, and this kit is known to be a little tricky for full-grown adults, it’s reasonable to ask how much of it he actually did. The truthful answer is that he performed the vast majority of the build himself, looking at the directions, with me pulling the pieces for him and checking his work. A few tasks, like hanging the engines on the wings, weren’t all that clear from the directions so I had to get involved.
I was impressed by how readily John understood the relatively complex arrangements of gearing used in this kit. The Cargo Plane can raise and lower the nose, operate the rear liftgate, extend and retract the landing gear, spin the props, and manipulate wing control surfaces. The central power distribution unit has a transmission with sliding dog rings. So at the age of six he already comprehends the workings of a manual gearbox better than most of my driving students.
We spent an hour playing with the plane. John made cargo boxes to fit in the plane and he flew it around the house. He expressed an interest in seeing real cargo planes so we made a plan to go to Wright-Patterson and check out some C-130s.
Since we were on an assembly gig, I thought I’d put something else together, too.
This fiberglass Herman Miller chair came from a friend who is helping out his local community library by cleaning up and selling some of their old inventory. John screwed it together and then pointed out that it was really better-sized for him than for me. So here he is:
That evening, we went to dinner and had a talk about our experience building the plane. I pointed out that we had spent a long time building the plane and that he had wanted to give up on it a few times. (To be fair, he was eager to work on it far more often than he was not.) We talked about the fact that not everything in this world is easy, not everything in this world is quick, not everything in this world happens right away. That there is disappointment to be had in everything you do, but that the end result of hard work is its own reward.
It is a lesson I’ve always found easier to teach than to accept.