Ground Control to Major Tom.

As much as I hate to admit it, chores in our house are divided by stereotypical gender roles. My husband typically owns the outside work, mowing, shoveling snow, pool duties etc. Despite the fact that he tried to get me (unsuccessfully) to rake this fall, his domain is pretty much outside. I take care of the inside housework; cooking, cleaning and folding laundry, which I detest on a grand scale. As archaic as this sounds, it works for us, unless there’s a blip in the system.

The most recent blip occurred when my husband was away for a few days. The four-and-a-half-year-old pulled out the space shuttle tent for his bed he was given for Christmas, as yet unopened. There was no room for it as the previously gifted Car Tent for his bed was taking up most of the storage in his closets.

“Mom—this is so cool! Can you put it together?”

I consider myself to be a person of reasonable intelligence. Despite the fact that my husband (usually in charge of the “Can you put it together” inquiry) was away, I could certainly put together a flimsy fabric tent complete with several poles of differing lengths. Together we opened the package and started assembling it in the living room.

My first piece of advice to anyone putting together a similar cool tent is: don’t put it together in the living room. Especially if you value any lamps, half-full coffee mugs or your cat’s vision. Feeding a pole with elastic threaded through the interior into a small fabric sleeve causes it to shoot out with a force not unlike jousting.

My second piece of advice would be not to attempt this feat with aforementioned four-year-old’s one-year-old sister in the room. She found this totally amusing, until she was poked in the eye. It ceased to be funny for her at that point.

After the ice was applied and the one-year-old was content with a Popsicle, we continued to attempt the assembly of this space oddity. After getting the general shape together and feeling pretty good about my progress, I started on the tail section, which included no less than 7 pieces.

I am quite sure that the directions were first written in Japanese, translated by a Japanese-speaking Italian, and translated back to English by Sylvester Stallone. Either that, or one actually did need to be a rocket scientist to put it together. Not only was I completely flustered, I was actually missing a piece which nearly sent me racing to the phone to call the company frothing at the mouth about their ineffectiveness putting together a simple space shuttle kit. Regardless, after about 30 minutes and much internal cursing on my part, we still had a space shuttle tent sans tail to put on his bed. We agreed to set a later date for completing the tail. Not that I would admit this out loud, but the later date was “after Dad gets home.”

After the initial bout of silliness in the tent sans tail, my son was downstairs in the kitchen and I was in his room picking up some odds and ends. Just peeking out from under his bed was a white plastic tube similar to the ones I was trying to assemble the tail with. I fiddled with the remaining tail pieces and Yowza! It worked! I had not known such a feeling of accomplishment since I mastered the D chord on the guitar. Which I’ve still not replicated. Lo and behold, I guess I am a rocket scientist.

The look on my son’s face when he came upstairs to find the tail of his space shuttle constructed was one of my many joys in life. When was the last time we, as adults, expressed such unfettered delight, giggling un-self-consciously? Far too infrequently, in my opinion.

Five minutes later, the two of us were jetting off into the stars, (make that three of us; our newly-christened Space Dog was with us) giggling and having a grand old time.

This is sooo much better than folding laundry.

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