When my nephew Enzo turned three, someone gave him this big robot that can be transformed into a truck. To be more precise, it was a Transformers toy. Not just any Transformer figure, it was THE mighty Optimus Prime, leader of the Autobots.
Bear in mind that my nephew just turned 3 at that time. It would have been impossible for him to transform the toy by himself. And since he was not of the Transformers-Voltron generation, he didn’t care much about the robot. He wanted the big truck instead. My brother–in-law was out of the country so it was up to my sister to help transform the toy. My sister was never adept at tinkering with anything mechanical so she was ready to hide the whole box, maybe until her son turned 18. I, on the other hand, wanted to prove that I was the best godmother ever, so I took on the responsibility of turning Optimus Prime into his alter ego.
So I took the toy home with me one night, with the promise that the following day it will be a mega truck instead of a mega robot. I knew it wouldn’t be quick and easy to transform, but I didn’t expect the thing to be so complicated! Going over the instructions manual, I had to recheck the box every so often to make sure that it said “for ages 5+.” I was three decades older than my nephew, yet I had difficulty in understanding what the arrows in the manual meant or where they led to. Transforming Optimus Prime then became a challenge.
The following are the lessons I learned as I laboured to finish the toy:
- The pieces have to fit. As I disassembled and assembled the toy, I couldn’t veer away from the realization that the pieces or the parts had to fit. Brute force will not work. I can’t insist on putting one knob where it is not supposed to be, otherwise I will just end up doing everything all over again.
- Follow instructions. Though the instruction booklet seemed like hieroglyphics for the most part, I learned that it was still best to follow what it said or what the pictures show. Cutting corners or sequence won’t work. Jumping from step #3 to step #5 will not hide the robot’s head or make his big wheels appear. It was important to follow instructions thoroughly and carefully.
- It is okay to take a step back if unsure. Sometimes we just have to retrace our steps to correct our mistakes or to be able to move in the right direction.
- Rest is good.
- ‘Okay’ is not good enough. Who am I kidding? It may have looked like a truck already, but a loose part or the stuck wheel won’t enable it to move like a truck. As in life, giving 80% when you can give full 100% is not good enough. It’s simply lazy.
- Patience is truly a virtue. If you work hard, and devote your time and effort on something, you will surely reap the rewards. However, there are things that cannot be rushed. Some activities require hard work, perseverance and yes, patience. Lots and lots of patience. When facing tough moments, have faith. Sometimes, it’s that one last step that makes the difference. Don’t falter. Go for that step.
Sometime around midnight, under the dimly lit lamp, I successfully transformed the mighty Optimus Prime into the mighty truck that it was supposed to be. Although no one was awake to witness my victory, it was a moment of triumph worth savouring. Though I knew that at some point I was so ready to throw the toy away out of frustration, I stayed the course and finished the task. I toiled and then I reaped. I can never forget the huge smile on Enzo’s face when he saw the big truck the following morning. That, alone, made me feel victorious all the more.