A Transformative Experience


My grandson, James, is up here at our house in the country.  He was asking lots of questions about various things on the property, pointing to a pair of upright four by four support posts that at one time had been covered with metal roofing.

I mentioned, while pointing to the metal roofing material that had been stacked on the ground next to the fence, that the shed got damaged when a tornado passed close to our house.  We’d been extremely lucky the tornado only took off a couple of sections of metal roofing from the shed; that it could as easily have hit our house and done lots of damage.

The idea of a tornado passing through our property kicked his mind into over drive as I watched him trying to put all these ideas into a completed thought.  I then explained that the tornado that had barely touched down at our property, that very same tornado made its way over to where the freeway is; again I was pointing in the general direction of the freeway for James to be able to follow the story.

I asked if he remembered being in my truck going into Buffalo on the service road that goes next to the freeway.  I explained that the tornado had destroyed three huge transformers and torn them from off their supports right next to the road and that the electric company had to come out and repair all the damage.

“Wow! The tornado broke the transformers?” Looking at his expression let me know he was thinking of a completely different kind of transformer, those featured on television shows where one moment it’s a pickup truck and seconds later it’s turned into a giant fighting machine standing tall, shooting lightning bolts or rockets out of its extended arms.

I could see additional explanation would be required as I pointed to the electrical transformer attached to the pole next to our house.  “That’s the kind of transformer that got destroyed; only they were much larger.”

James might not have understood how I could be as confused about something as simple as a transformer, heck; any kid knows what transformers are, just look at what’s available at the toy store.

This exchange reminded me of my son William when he was about the same age.  We’d been planning our vacation and invited Lucy’s dad, Bob Spitler, to go along.  He lived on the other side of town and was about to leave when a terrible thunderstorm moved through knocking out power to his house.

He called letting us know he’d been delayed while waiting for the power company to replace a broken transformer.  Upon hearing this William started bouncing off the walls in excitement.

“Gran-Bobby has a transformer in his backyard!”  Nothing we could say changed his mind, “Gran-Bobby has a transformer in his backyard; Wow!”  Visions of twenty foot tall super heroes and villains stomping on trees as they marched across his grandfather’s back yard knocking out power lines to the house were running rampant in William’s mind.

About an hour or so later Bob showed up and we were able to leave on our trip.  William made sure to sit next to his grandfather wanting to hear all about the transformer and how it got broken, how it got fixed and how come he’d never told him he had one in his backyard.  It was a great way to start our vacation, one of those delays that you can’t complain took away anything simply because we didn’t get started on time.

Having a conversation with a five year old can be a transformative experience.  You can take my word on that.

t-f-stern-1Self-Educated American, Senior Edi­tor, T.F. Stern is both a retired City of Hous­ton police offi­cer and, most recently, a retired self-employed lock­smith (after serving that industry for 40 plus years). He is also a gifted polit­i­cal and social com­men­ta­tor. His pop­u­lar and insight­ful blog, T.F. Sterns Rant­i­ngs, has been up and at it since January of 2005.

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