Although I reminded Husbot twice before I left town and texted him both the night before and the morning of Mbot’s show-and-tell, to remind him about it, I neglected to mention Recycle Robot.
We had discussed him several times before I left. To the every-fourteen-business-days question, “What would you like to bring for show-and-tell?”, last week Mbot replied, “Recycle Robot.” I was surprised he remembered Recycle Robot. Recycle Robot the First had lived an exciting yet abbreviated life in the limelight (see Recycle Robot vs. Sister Mary Villus.)
In our discussions, I said things like, “If you want to bring Recycle Robot to show-and-tell, we need to build him. Would you like to build him now?” And something would always happen–drawing a picture or becoming Wonder Girl or becoming Fasci the horse or zooming around the house on his Strider bike–and Recycle Robot would retreat into the hazy future. Show-and-tell wasn’t ’til Thursday. Which, in preschooler years, isn’t ’til December.
I thought Mbot would forget about Recycle Robot. Did I really think this? No. But I fervently hoped it. Surely he would fixate on a flattened penny, or one of Daddy’s maps of the Coconino National Park, or his new fave bedtime friend, the Mrs. Piggle-Wiggle book from the library.
Today, far away in Chicago, I pushed away the niggling fear that Recycle Robot would rise to haunt me, as I went from the Goucher booth at the AWP Book Fair to the panel on the mix of motherhood and writing (the product of which does not combust if combined in just the right manner) to another on running writer’s workshops. Before I headed out to a reading by the poet laureates of both Great Britain and the United States, Husbot called.
“How is everything going?” I asked from my perch overlooking the Chicago skyline.
“Great, just fine,” said Husbot. “Except,”
I froze. I knew that Recycle Robot was coming to haunt me.
“…Except at 10:30 yesterday, Mbot sprung on me that he was going to bring Recycle Robot to show-and-tell.”
I sat rigid on my puffy, immaculate bedspread and did the math. 10:30. That would give Husbot exactly seventy-five minutes to make Recycle Robot. Subtracting time spent coaxing the Bots into the bathroom, convincing them into socks, supervising the application of shoes, acquiring last-minute food and drinks, and loading into the Midget Mobile, I calculated that this left no more than six minutes and thirty-eight seconds for the design and construction of Recycle Robot.
“I tried to talk him into something else,” continued Husbot. “But he was insistent. And he was good about not throwing a sputterfuss.”
“What happened?” I asked. I felt like I was watching a Hitchcock film. Everything was pretty bad, and you waited, and waited, and then things got much worse.
Husbot’s voice was nonchalant. “We made Recycle Robot.”
I blinked. “What?”
“I found a Triscuits box, and we put on a plastic head, and got cardboard tubes for legs….Mbot drew a face on him, and wrote his name on the back…It was great. He was very pleased with it. Everyone really liked it.”
Thoughts whirled in my head: Why couldn’t I pull Recycle Robot out of my ass? It had taken us almost two hours to make Recycle Robot the First. Of course, I had insisted on articulated limbs.Why did Husbot sound so relaxed about it? It’s not like he was the show-and-tell expert. I had needed an extra glass of wine the night that Recycle Robot the First was born. But those thoughts splintered and disintegrated like cheap fireworks and the one that filled the pristine room on South Michigan Avenue was:
It’s things like this that make women fall in love.
Who was your hero today?