Slice of Life: String Theory and Mr. Annoying

Slice of Life(This is part of the Slice of Life project at Two Writing Teachers)

I know there is already a fully-formed theory called String Theory that has to do with theoretical physics and particles of the Universe. But I also have a String Theory and it has do with adolescents (although, I confess, I am not sure if is a boy-thing, or gender-free).

When I was around 12 years old, I remember reading on my bed one night and wanting to turn off the light. The switch on the wall was not more than a five or six feet away, but I didn’t want to get out of bed. I was comfortable. The light seemed far away. I tried to conjure up some magic powers to turn the lights off. That didn’t work. Then, I started thinking: if I could rig up some sort of system that would allow me to lounge on my bed but still turn off the lights, that would be pretty cool.

So, the next day, I found some string and began an elaborate Rube Goldberg-style system of strings that hung from the doorjams, snaked across the walls and dangled down near my hand. It wasn’t perfect. If I pulled too hard, the whole contraption would tumble down into my lap. But it was good enough. Later, I began to work on a similar idea for opening and closing the door (this was more difficult. Opening was easy enough but shutting required some sort of reverse pulley, a concept I could not wrap my brain around.)

I spent more time and energy on the construction of the invention than I would have if I had just got my butt up and turned off the light each night, but as educators, we know that is beside the point, right?

Which brings us to the modern day household. Last week, I walked up to the older boys’ rooms and there was string everywhere. Plus, scissors and some tape, as well.

“What are you doing?”

” Inventing.”

“Inventing what?” (note: the 12 year old is hard to get info out of, these days. and the 10 year old was following his brother’s lead in his own room).

“A way to turn the lights off.”

“Why don’t you just reach over and turn them off,” I said, looking at the short distance between his bed and the light switch. Literally, he could stretch and never leave the bed and still get his light. This kid is lazy, I thought, before the memory of my own efforts suddenly came flooding back.

“At night, when Duke (our dog) is sleeping, I don’t want to wake him up. If I shift too much, he starts moving. Then, he becomes Mr. Annoying.”

All for a dog …

I looked over his design, noticed that my concepts for Bed-to-Light were stronger (the competitive streak comes out), nodded to him to continue on and walked away. He may not play music, but this kid sure got my inventive gene. Too bad that genetic element rarely got me beyond String Theory.

Peace (in the string),

  1. If your son makes the invention he’s hoping for, please have him pass it along to me. I laid down on my couch to read around 11:30 and didn’t want to get up at 12:15 to take a nap. So I just closed my eyes, with the lights on, thereby enriching PP&L. I got up at 1:00 and read for another hour and a half. All with the lights on…

    I could use his invention, though my using it has to deal with laziness, not about a dog.

  2. In a world where not many children are encouraged to use their imagination, I applaud you son’s creativity and I applaud you for allowing him to be creative. Please keep us posted on his invention.

  3. Genius!

    We have just installed a remote lightswitch so we have two switches in one room. It cost about $30. So worth it! Next, we’ll put one next to our bed!

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