3.09.2008

Screw You, Optimus Prime!

I'm no genius, but I like to think I'm moderately intelligent. IQ is probably somewhere in the lower 120s. My strengths tend to lie in analyzing human behavior and waxing philosophical. I'm good at recognizing patterns. I'm pretty evenly divided between being detail and big picture oriented, although if I had to choose one, I'd prefer to look at something as a whole. I gravitate toward politics, the study of interpersonal relations, and love examining the world in a socio-cultural context. My weaknesses? The mechanical stuff, such as spatial reasoning, math, and other activities that require me to apply my analytical skills to physical objects like mind-benders and Rubix Cubes. I'll never be able to build the bridge, but I could provide a hundred and one reasons why one should be built.

My latest mental conundrum? Transformers.

Yeah, that's right. Transformers. And since I am the mother of a precocious little boy who has recently celebrated his fifth birthday, I have been reminded that there is no shortage of ways in which a mother can be reminded that she is not necessarily the smartest person in the parent-child relationship. I can't stand these toys. It's not that I think they are inappropriate or because I have a problem with robots in general (I LOVE ROBOTS!). It's that Transformers have a way of making me regress to having the mental prowess of a tree stump.

Elias received an Optimus Prime Transformer toy for his birthday. I looked, or rather glared, at the piece of articulated plastic secured behind the clear bubble of its box (which proclaimed rather prominently to be appropriate for kids aged 5 and up), and I said a little prayer of thanks to whoever was listening that my son has a father who can show him the way with these things.

But I am not always one to back down from a challenge, so when I saw Ken taking ol' Oppy out of his cardboard shelter today with all of the vigor of a die hard nerd aching to relive a chunk of his childhood, I knew that I too must finally prove myself. I took glances at him over the ten minutes or so it took for him to figure out the toy's bewildering multitude of bending joints that would turn it from a semi-truck into a fearsome mechanical beast, and I began to get a little discouraged. Undoubtedly, when it comes to my weaknesses as a thinker, Ken, the guy who spends his days looking at specs for gigantic motherboards, has them as strengths. If it was taking him that long to figure out how to transform this thing, then I was bound to be like the ape before the monolith for over an hour, and would likely give up in disgust in half that time.

When I finally got my hands on it, I was determined to turn it back into a truck. But where to begin? Curses ranging in vulgarity from "What the effing h?" to "Shit monkeys on toast!" flew from my mouth at a record pace as I managed to nearly break the toy in two spots and then hand it back to Ken in a fit of desperate stupidity. I was heartened by the fact that it more resembled a truck than the bowel movement of a robot-eating troll, but given the fact that this is a toy for children of single-digit age, I felt too stupid to live.

Tonight, I took a gander at doing the reverse--transforming it from truck to robot. That was even harder, and my spatially-starved brain took another opportunity to remind me that I was operating out of bounds. I managed to finish the job, but if I'd been graded on it, I would have likely received a "Gee, you're adorable" for my efforts. It was the best I could hope for under such brain-melting circumstances.

I could take the simplistic way out and blame my vagina. Undoubtedly, if one peruses the predominantly pink and purple aisles of the neighborhood Toys R Us, one will find nary a Transformer. Therefore, my exposure was limited from an early age. Not to say that a person couldn't traverse the store to procure an Optimus Prime for their little girl, but I'd say it's pretty fair to assume that these toys are generally not marketed toward the female segment of the population. But that's not quite right. It's not my vagina's fault I can't Transformer. It's my brain's fault. My stupid, stupid brain.