To put it simply, the best way to see how something works when you're nine years old is to disassemble it. Many children destroy their toys eventually, either through curiosity, neglect, boredom, or perhaps even malice. The engineer skips the part that involves actually playing with the toy. In this hypothetical situation, both boys receive a toy robot dinosaur named "Cruncher." He is really fancy, can be programmed to do certain actions, and is fairly expensive.
He loves Cruncher immediately. This crass and ridiculous dinosaur is colorful, loud, automated, and it farts. What more could a child want? Cruncher lasted nearly two years before the artist bashed its skull in because he wanted to use the eyeballs in an art project.
Cruncher is removed from the box. The features are scrolled through. The programming feature is attempted, which causes frustration because it doesn't quite function as it should based on the description in the manual. The box that Cruncher arrived in -- and has only been free from for a few short hours -- soon becomes the holding pen for the screws and parts as Cruncher is savagely disassembled. Screws are removed, seals are broken, wires clipped, motors and sensors removed. Those motors will go on to be a treasured source of amusement for years, the plastic bits that encased them long forgotten.
The engineer's tendency toward destruction can be startling at times, especially when the object at hand is a high-dollar item that the parent would rather not see rendered to pieces in minutes flat.
I suggest that the parent adopt two methods when giving an engineer new items:
- "The deal": Tell them you'll get this thing for them if they promise not to disassemble it for a pre-determined amount of time. The disassembly is inevitable, you just need to find a time period that will make you, the parent, feel better about what feels like money down a rat hole.
- Acceptance: For items of lower value, just accept that you aren't paying for it, but rather you've just invested in a learning opportunity for your kid. You'll be happier.
In conclusion, living with a child who is an engineer can be frustrating at times. Please consider that it isn't just frustrating for you. Often you are the frustration. You are either falling short in providing the requested data, or in some cases actually hindering the enginer's ability to retrieve the data he or she wants. Worst case, the child may become angry because it seems that you just don't care enough to answer the 273rd question about that thing that you have to Google on your phone while on vacation. Remain calm and try to think of a way to work as a team to get the information that the engineer, quite literally, needs.
Do you have a born engineer in your brood? Were you one? What trials and tribulations did you put your parents through?