I have been meaning to keep a notebook of the funny things our little guy, Rollie, says from time to time. And the things he does. I had every intention of calling it “The Rollie Chronicles.”

He has a funny way of saying things, or just says the darnedest things. He has been featured in Grace Housholder’s column occasionally on Fridays, so I leave the sayings there; don’t want to step on Grace’s turf.

Rollie also has a lot of skills that might not be found in typical 8-year-old boys.

It all started early on when Rollie first came to our home as a foster. We were learning all about him, what made him tick. One of his service providers, Charles, had a good handle on Rollie. He said he was very mechanical and that we needed to get him a set of tools.

Well, Rollie came to us with a set of tools. You’ve no doubt seen them before. Those plastic things that would break if you tried to drive a nail with the hammer. Then there’s those clownish, oversized screwdrivers and wrenches that wouldn’t fit a thing, unless it might be a nut and bolt holding up that big beautiful steel fence that someone wants along our Southern border.

Charles tells us to buy Rollie a real set of tools, but remove anything that was dangerous. So we did, and Erika promptly removed the utility knife and hammer.

Rollie was in heaven.

Us, not so much.

One time, I went up to Rollie’s room because it had gone quiet. I knew he was up to something. When I opened his door, there he was with all of the switch plates and outlet covers removed. I put them all back on and explained that if that metal screwdriver touched the wrong thing, he could get shocked, maybe even electrocuted.

He smiled.

Another time, he took the door handle set off his closet. Every piece of it, including the latch set and the strike plate. A few days later when he whined that he couldn’t close his closet door, we told him he needed to put the handle back on. So he did. The latch set went on backward but eventually he removed it again and turned it around; no different than changing your shoes after you put them on the wrong feet, right?

Rollie has helped drive screws in a neighbor’s picket fence — when he was 6 (he’s now 8). He has assisted me when installing new lighting, can-type lights in the ceiling. There’s not a thing he doesn’t think he can do.

My friend Candy the other day suggested we get Rollie some Legos. Legos? We have Legos coming out our ears. And I think a few of them are permanently attached to the bottom of my feet.

One thing that has really kept Rollie occupied is this snap circuit kit that allows him to make all of these battery operated devices by snapping circuits together on a special board. He even got one set at Christmas that enables him to build an electric robotic thing with wheels out of snap circuits.

These snap circuits are great because he gets to see how things work as he builds them. That’s a real problem with Rollie. He has to see how things work, and because he hasn’t been severely injured or electrocuted, when you’re not looking, things have a way of being taken apart. (Sometimes when they go back together, they actually work. And there have been things that I could have sworn were permanently broken, only to have the little stinker take it and fix it.)

Anything robot and he goes nuts for it. Anything.

So, we got a household gift this holiday season. One of those robot vacuums, the Shark version. With our busy schedules at our house, the thing is perfect for keeping up with pet hair and the tiny pieces of paper someone likes to tear up and leave all over the floor.

But it’s a robot. And as it sits in its dock, it is the greatest temptation ever for the little engineer in our house.

It must have been killer for Rollie, every morning and evening after school seeing that thing sit there and there wasn’t a thing he could do. Don’t touch it! Don’t play with the remote! Leave it alone!

Finally, this past Friday morning, as I went back upstairs, I could hear the robot starting to make its familiar noises. Rollie couldn’t take it anymore. He just had to play with it.

I came back downstairs and there was Rollie, running, reveling in the fact, as he put it, that the robot chased him around the room.

I need to hide the screwdrivers. Call this chapter one.

michael marturello is editor of the The Herald Republican. He can be reached at mmarturello@kpcme dia.com.

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