The Sun is shining. The sky is blue. Small birds are twittering around. Our kids are in the garden, making a catapult out of a Totem Tennis set. It is simply an awesome day.
How are they making a catapult out of a Totem Tennis set?
3yo Nefarious is standing on the balcony holding the pole; 6yo Sinister is pulling on the tethered ball from below the balcony (it’s a metre drop), springing it back up to Nefarious. At first, it was just the ball flying up. Then it was the stuffed toys riding the tennis ball up and over the balcony. There’s been a couple of BANG sounds, and endless laughter. It potentially could be the most ridiculously dangerous thing ever. But no-one is dead yet, and I loathe to interfere with such creativity, and such maniacal laughter.
So why I am letting it be?
Why the hell not?
Often I am asked, what is the difference between Evil Genius potential and Mere Minions.
The Answer: Bugger off and figure it out for yourself.
Oh, fine. The answer is: Creativity.
Our greatest long-term experiment is the creation of our little spawnlings, so I am not about to allow them to kill themselves (or each other) and waste the last few years of hard work. But on the other hand, this is the expression of creative genius. Expanding their boundaries. Proving to themselves that some limitations are merely suggestive. Their imaginations are their greatest weapons.
An Evil Genius is the Genius who has the idea that everyone moans about but no-one can resist. Minions whine “but no-one else has done it, so it must be crap” or “Mr Snooty Pants said it can’t be done, so I won’t think about it ever again“. Wow – I don’t even know where to start on that.
Actually, yes I do. Minion. There are so many things we wouldn’t have if that was what EVERYONE thought.
And if you want to continue down that path, go for it. You’re a boring shit who wasn’t going to amount to anything beyond one of my test-subjects or minions anyway.
There is a certain gift to looking at an every-day item and suddenly seeing a new purpose for it. Another use. A simple modification. When Sinister and Nefarious change the use of the Totem Tennis set to be a catapult, they are not just using their imagination. They are developing their understanding of basic engineering principles. They are working with physics, and showing how they see these basic lessons in anything lying around. Next thing you know, they’ll be building a Lego robot to catapult each other across the park. EG Dad has to first go.
Yes, they are only 6 and 3. But this is where it begins!! An ordinary parent would tell them to stop using the Totem Tennis Set in that way -to only see the Totem Tennis Set as a Totem Tennis Set. Shit – you may as well start teaching them 2 + 2 only equals 4, and welcome in the rest of the Orwellian World of 1984. This is what separates the Evil Genius from the Minions and Test-Subjects.
Now I have to go and remind them to collect their stuffed test-subjects from the other side of the balcony. Collateral damage in the early test examples.