Tommy and Mr. Edison

They say we will never stop learning through all eternity. That sounds reasonable to me, given our “exploration and discovery gene.”

Lisa, her friend Stacey, and five-year-old Tommy come out for a visit, and I take Tommy to explore the old trailer. It’s full of boxes of old things that Richard and I aren’t ready to sort or part with yet, and some real treasures. There are love letters between Richard’s parents before they married, letters Richard’s dad wrote when he was in the army, and condolences to Richard’s mother when she lost his baby sister in 1944.

But Tommy’s not interested in old letters right now, or even in the books his mommy and aunties loved to read. He runs from room to room looking at the THINGS, trying to figure out what they are for, why they don’t work, and what fits into what else.

He finds a tiny Christmas tree and plugs in the lights. They don’t work. Tommy’s very scientific about solving the problem: He checks to see if there’s power in the room by having me switch on the main light, then tries various outlets. We try room after room, outlet after outlet. Then Tommy decides the problem must be with the plug. We try an extension cord after verifying that the outlet works—still no success.

But just like Thomas Edison, Tommy is not discouraged.

“I have not failed. I’ve just found 10,000 ways that won’t work.”
Thomas A. Edison (

Back at the house, Tommy’s “helper gene” kicks in. Fascinated by our Jet Tub, he decides it needs cleaning. Armed with a sponge and hand soap, Tommy puts the bathmat into the tub, kneels down and commences vigorous scrubbing.

This lasts until I mention chocolate milk. I show Tommy how to use the handheld shower to rinse the tub and, consumed by ambition, he also washes the toilet seat.

I make sure he washes his hands well before helping me with refreshments! Tommy checks with Stacey and reports that she wants peppermint tea. He “really” wants to make the tea, so I have him open the bag and put it into an empty cup for me to pour boiling water over.

Tommy measures the chocolate powder into the cups, stirs in the milk, and serves the tasty beverage to the others.

Soon my favorite five-year-old leaves with his mother and her friend, and I’m left with a warm glow.

“There is no substitute for hard work.”
Thomas A. Edison (


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