trans·form·er — /trænsˈfɔr mər/ [trans-fawr-mer] –noun
1. Electricity . an electric device consisting essentially of two or more windings wound on the same core, which by electromagnetic induction transforms electric energy from one set of one or more circuits to another set of one or more circuits such that the frequency of the energy remains unchanged while the voltage and current usually change.
2. a person or thing that transforms, ex: autobots and decepticons.
We had a fairly major windstorm ‘round these parts Monday night. Gusts were above 50 miles per hour. Trees, branches, rooftops, etc., all seemed to lose their bearings and relocate in violent ways. I have yet to talk to a kid or adult who did not spend at least part of their evening without power. Schools in my district started two hours late on Tuesday and as the kids came pouring in at 11 AM, every single one was amped up and spewed stories of wind-borne chaos. It was impossible to contain them, I didn’t even try.
Instead of being like, “Shut up, we’re done with all this storm nonsense, please go back to writing about Thanksgiving,” I said, “HOLY CRAP! Wasn’t that storm the craziest?!” And then I let them talk. (That’s pretty much the truth, except I never, ever, ever tell my kids to shut up and I never, ever, ever, say “crap” in the classroom. Schools come with little potty-mouth alarm systems. Sirens wail. The sprinklers go off.) Over the course of the conversation, it became clear that one of my darlings had confused “transformers,” the big canister/box things that serve some kind of important purpose on power poles, with “Transformers,” of the Autobot and Decepticon varieties.
The kid said he saw pink and blue lightning. “Like this! Pew-pew-pew-zzzzzzzap!” He said.
“Oh, that was a transformer,” said a girl who lives in his same neighborhood.
The kid crinkled his nose and looked at her like she’d said, “Oh, yeah, I shot that lightning out of my own fingers.”
“A TRANSFORMER? No…it was lightning.”
“No, a transformer blew up…they make pink and blue explosions when they blow.”
“WHAT? Wait….what? How could it be a Transformer? They don’t explode.”
“Yes,” she said, “they do. Sometimes when there’s a storm and it’s really windy they explode. And when they explode they put out pink and blue sparks.”
“But a Transformer?! What are they even doing here?!”
His expression at this point was so confused and so pained. This girl doesn’t ever joke around and he honestly could not figure out what she was talking about. Here he thought he’d just seen a windstorm and now she’s telling him it could have been a robot alien war the entire time.
She said, “My uncle told me it must have exploded near their substation.”
I thought his head would pop. “Their SUBSTATION?!” She was totally rocking his world. Now, on top of one exploding Transformer there’s an entire substation full of them in his very own hometown. He couldn’t take it anymore. I couldn’t take it anymore.
“Hey, sister, will you please go to the window and show him what you’re talking about,” I directed. It was hard to watch his little emotional roller-coaster. The little (tiny) pockets of logical reasoning he encounters in his day were nowhere too be found and he was losing his grip on reality.
She went to the window, directed his eyes towards the power pole, and showed him the boring, grey transformer perched below where the wires connect.
He sighed a deep sigh of relief. “Okay,” he said, “So it was just lightning after all.”
“No, it was a transformer.”
No, guys, we’re done now. There must be some paragraphs I need you to edit somewhere or a concept map that needs drawing. I’m sure if I dig there are flash cards around here…
Also, for some perspective, the kid that mistook the electrical device for the robot alien is the same kid who ate is own hair. He also told me once he fought off a six-foot praying mantis with his bare hands. This is why most days I don’t even try to reason with them, I just try to keep the crazy to one subject area at a time.