Sunday, January 27, 2008

My Daughter, the Rocket Scientist

As regular readers of this site know, one of the ways we get our kicks around here is interpreting the drawings of the Pillowfight Fairy, and trying to figure out what she's going to be when she grows up. So far she's either going to be an expert in siege warfare, or she's going to be an anarcho-capitalist, or she's going to be a writer of really depressing novels.

Or, as we were happy to discover over the last few days, she's going to be an aerospace engineer. I first learned of this possible career choice this week when I was informed over breakfast one morning of her decision that I was going to help her build a rocket.

And, silly me; I thought: "Oh, she wants me to build a model rocket with her. How fascinating! What a great father-daughter project! She's really a little young to be handling rocket motors and stuff like that, but I could handle the dangerous stuff, and she would still get to do a really cool craft project. And..."

No. When she says she wants to build a rocket, she means a real rocket.
This picture apparently depicts the two of us. Now those big round things on our heads are helmets (note the bow on the Pillowfight Fairy's head), but I must admit it took me a while staring at this picture to figure that out. For a long time it just looked to me like the two inmates were screaming in abject terror--not unreasonable, given the circumstances in the above picture.

Well, discerning readers will note the striking resemblance this rocket craft bears to that in the Wallace and Gromit episode "A Grand Day Out", right down to the parking brake on the floor next to daddy. So far as she's concerned, the essence of rockets, their very Platonic form, is what was designed and flown by the eccentric West Wallaby Street inventor and his dog. But lately there's been another source informing her notions of rocketry: this book. In What Friends Do Best, the main character sets out to build a rocket ship, but discovers that he is neither strong enough to lift the big pieces, nor small enough to sort through all the small pieces, by himself; to finish the project he needs help from his two friends (who, conveniently enough, are a bear and a mouse). At the end, the three of them are happily rocketing around in a craft that looks as though it was also inspired by Wallace and Gromit.

So! It would appear that the Pillowfight Fairy learned her lesson: in order to build her rocket, she will need some help from someone big and strong, to help her move the big pieces. That would be me, apparently. She also needs a diagram of all the parts required in the construction:

Note that I edited out the Pillowfight Fairy's real name from just above her self-portrait. And I don't have a widow's peak like that; that part should have gone on Mommy.

Hm. It appears the Pillowfight Fairy has somehow gotten the notion into her head that rockets are things that people build in their garages or basements. After all, that's where they were built in all the rocket stories she's been exposed to. And after all, Daddy has been making cobblestone walkways around here--why not rockets too? What could possibly be so hard about them?

Still, it really does make a Daddy proud to have his daughter think: "Well, I'm going to make a rocket, and I want my Daddy right there to show me how to do it, and then we're going flying together." Rather a happy thought, isn't it?

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