Jonathan, our real rocket scientist, the one who actually builds the real deal stuff to send rocketing into outer space, had a blast reliving his childhood as we picked out a model rocket at a hobby store in Illinois.
We were on a date. Yes, this is the stuff our dates consist of sometimes. We had just learned the gender of rocket baby #3 and had plans to announce the news to family with a confetti stuffed model rocket. I felt like we were spending an inordinate amount of time in the model rocket aisle. There honestly weren’t even that many to choose from, not to mention the online research already conducted in the name of finding the right rocket for a gender reveal.
Eventually, he settled on a fairly simple one with geometric designs on its cylindrical body. Chosen particularly with Eddie in mind. You see, ever since we’d told Eddie about another baby joining our family, even before that, he’s been hoping for a girl. When we explained our idea to build and launch a small rocket which would explode either blue for a boy or pink for a girl, he was 100% on board. He’d explain to any and all, “The rocket will go up, but not all the way to space, then it will explode either blue or pink.”
Next step at the hobby store: find the parts not included in the kit. Mostly, it was all right there. Unfortunately, they only had #2 rocket engines in stock, not #1 as the packaging suggested. Oh well, right? One last stop across the store to pick up some confetti and we were on our way.
A few days later Eddie was thrilled to finally get to build the rocket with Dad, and they set to work. Launch time was set to just before dinnertime. Anticipation rose in the hearts of grandparents, aunts and uncles. Speculations began to circulate.
Turns out building a model rocket is more that just fun! The attention to detail, direction following, even the potential danger and the importance of getting things right to insure success…all good skills to practice.
Eddie was bubbling over with excitement. “How will the rocket know which color to be?” he asked. We explained how the doctor knew and told Dad and I, and, after it was built, Dad would stuff the right color confetti and powder inside.
Soon it began to take shape. It was small, so it didn’t have much room for colored payload, but it would do the trick. Jonathan’s concern was model rocket’s notoriously finicky engines, how often they just wouldn’t work, but he was hopeful since we’d purchased a package of 3 at least one would take. Eddie was convinced he’d get to launch the rocket three times. Pure optimism.
The finished product fully assembled and flight ready, the launchpad constructed, it was time! Everyone gathered on the back porch and a final vote was conducted (basically, girls voted girl and boys voted boy). Then the countdown!
I think because I’d been told it might be a misfire, I was almost taken by surprise when the rocket shot up and quickly climbed almost higher than we could see. Within seconds there was a puff, and only a faint, brief hint of blue. Honestly, it was hard to tell. Everyone looked to me for verification. Was it blue? Was it pink?
Eddie’s eyes were riveted on the falling parachute, rocket attached. It’s like he forgot about the girl/boy thing and only cared about the precious rocket and his 3 launches! I stopped him long enough to ask him what color he saw (silly question, it was really hard to see), he shrugged, and I blurted the news: BOY baby! He hardly acknowledged me before hurrying off to retrieve the used rocket.
Congratulations flooded in. A family of 3 boys?! Busy! Fun! Cost effective!
Soon Eddie and Aunt Rae Rae came back with the rocket, miraculously found and not lost forever in the neighboring corn field! Eddie wanted to launch it immediately, but we decided to wait till the wind had died down some. We did launch it a second time, and that engine took too! But unfortunately it was lost to the trees, and remains unrecovered to this day.
As the news of another boy sank in, Eddie did ask, “How do we know the rocket was right? What if it’s a girl?” We explained, and now he’s firm we just need to have another baby, a girl baby next. Hmm, one step at a time, kid. Let’s get through this launch and recovery first!