When Ruby asked me where we were going, I told her it was someplace that she would like, but that Edward would really, really like. This is because we were going to Dozer Day, a large muddy festival at which three year old boys can drive and operate gigantic construction equipment, or, in other words, three year old boy heaven. Six year old girls will also enjoy these activities, but in my experience they prefer monkey bars and superheroes to bulldozers and backhoes.
The first trucks we got to go into were not the driving kind. The kids got into a giant dump truck and a cement mixer, but they were stationary. Yeah, it was fun and all, but that was only because they hadn’t driven the backhoe yet. Once we did that, it was all over.
The excitement was building as we stood in the amazingly short line, watching the kids in front of us operate the backhoe. A big pile of dirt sat in front of the machine and the children were able to scoop up the dirt and drop it back out onto the pile, as well as use the bucket to smooth out the pile. When Edward’s turn came, he dashed through the mud over to the cab and was hoisted in.
I should point out that there were adults in the machines as well, helping the children work the controls and ensuring that nobody got killed or drove into the woods. These professional operators seemed very able to keep the kids in check and guide their movements safely. That is, until Edward got into the thing. Once he figured out the controls, none of us were safe. Edward grabbed the stick and swung the boom out wildly towards the crowd, causing my wife, who was standing somewhat nearby for photo-taking purposes, to briefly fear for her life. The poor guy in the cab with Edward tried to regain control, but unfortunately Edward does what he wants. I don’t know where he gets that from…
Edward did manage to scoop some dirt and drive the machine back and forth a bit without killing anyone, and when it was Ruby’s turn to scoop the dirt, Edward ran off to operate a forklift. This is the kind of fun that your children can have when you take them to Dozer Day. Note to self: do not buy Edward a backhoe for Christmas.
They both loved the forklift, because they got to lift up a metal beam, but then we turned the wrong way and accidentally saw the bouncy castles. Even driving a bulldozer cannot compete with a bouncy castle. And even better than a bouncy castle is a bouncy alligator that eats you up and poops you out, so we made a beeline for that. Yes, our children took their muddy boots off and climbed into the mouth of an enormous inflatable reptile and bounced around inside of it. The exit was a small flap underneath the tail where they could squeeze out. Classy.
We were running out of time at this point, so we had to choose one more truck to operate. We almost did the crane, and we almost went up in the super high bucket, but in the end we decided on the massive electromagnet. This was pretty sweet, because they got to pick up some heavy I-beams and drop them onto a car. And then, if they wanted, they could pick up the car. And drop it. I cannot tell you how much, at that moment, I wished to be a three year old boy.
The car was pretty smashed up when we got there, from hours of pre-smashing by the other children, but there was still some smashability left in it. And here I found an insightful difference between my kids’ personal styles. Edward used the magnet to pick up as many beams as possible and smash them into the car. Ruby used the magnet to try and make a letter “T” using the beams. So Edward tried to break something and Ruby tried to build something. Hmmmmm…. Although, to be perfectly fair, Ruby also picked the car up and dropped it, but not from very high. I think the picking it up was the exciting part for her.
As we left the field and headed for the car, Ruby agreed with my initial assessment. “You were right Daddy,” she said. “I really liked that, but Edward loved it!” And it was true. But now I am a little concerned that I have taught my destructo-bot of a three year old how to operate heavy machinery. That won’t ever come back to haunt me… right…?