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The Marble Monstrosity

Posted Jan 10 2010 6:25am

I was tempted to call this “the things we do for our kids,” because a couple of times I warned Eric that this was going on the list with my 3 day labor to remind him of when he’s 17 and ungrateful.

All through the Christmas season, when we would go to Costco, we saw it: a marble roller coaster with loops and spirals and gears, and a motor to take the marbles back up again. Now, being the kind of parents we are, our immediate thought was, “I want one!! Er, I mean, Eric does!!” I have no shame in admitted I totally wanted to play with it myself, and John wanted to probably 10 times more than I did. We kept resisting because of the price tag, though, and the logistics of the thing. Where would we put it? Was Eric truly old enough?

Eventually, it disappeared, and our debate on whether to get one or not was rendered obsolete. We were much disappointed, too; John had nearly decided to get one himself, and I had nearly decided to get one for him. I snuck over a couple times, hoping it would reappear in a different spot, but it was well and truly gone.

At our first trip to Costco after the holidays, we were wandering the aisles and discovered the clearance section where they were getting rid of the last of their Christmas inventory. We found something else and picked it up, and as we went to walk away, we spotted it: the marble set, something like $20 cheaper and seemingly untouched. Someone must have returned it! Yes! The debate was over; it was in our cart and away we went.

When we went to put it together, we discovered why it had been returned.

Bags. Bags and bags and bags. This photo only has half of them. In each bag, dozens and dozens of tiny little parts and a 68 page instruction guide on how to put it together. I commented to John early on that it was a good thing he was an engineer and I was an engineering candidate before choosing a different path in university, because otherwise, this would have totally dashed our hopes of having our marble tower. He agreed, and we set to work, him calling out pieces and me organizing the bags so I could find them all quickly for him to build with.

The work started slowly, but eventually found a rhythm to it. Danny was obsessed with it, trying to grab parts and check them out. Have we mentioned he either doesn’t understand “no” yet or he (more likely) ignores it 75% of the time? Eric was a little better about leaving it be, but he desperately wanted to help build, so I delegated him the runner and would give him pieces to give to Daddy sitting a foot away. The instruction guide was in three parts, and randomly we’d run into a page announcing, “Congratulations! Stage 1 is complete!” Only…a heck of a lot more to go.

But finally – something like 3 and a half hours later – it was done.

And it was awesome.

Eric agrees.

(Danny, by that point, was in bed. He probably would have tried to eat the marbles if he hadn’t been.)

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