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Adults can be dense with 'assembly required' instructions - Valerie Baldowski

Being a grownup can be an humbling experience. Especially when it comes to figuring out kids' toys.

It's amazing how something that appears so simple can become so complex.

For several weeks now, one of the training wheels on my son's bike has been giving us trouble, loosening up and getting wobbly whenever the bike is ridden, despite repeated attempts to tighten the wheel.

My husband tried several times to fix the problem, to no avail. He finally announced that the screw is stripped, and since he is no good at bike repairs, it looked like a trip to the bicycle shop was in order.

My son recently got a scooter, which he rides constantly, but the other day, when I came home, I learned that the handlebar had come off.

Apparently, a nut or bolt or thingamajig that was holding it on, fell off.

My husband remarked that, despite having college degrees in political science and psychology, he is still stymied by trying to assemble or repair some toys.

I, too, have a college degree, and I agree with him. I can't understand how a screw on a training wheel can get stripped to the point where the wheel comes loose.

One Saturday, when I was out doing errands, my husband tried again to fix the wheel, and called me on my cell phone to announce it was back on. By the time I got back home, the wheel had fallen completely off.

My son wanted something to ride or scoot around on, so in a state of confusion, I fooled around with the scooter and got the handlebar back on, at least temporarily.

Hopefully, we can find some kind of screw or bolt or something to fix it permanently. My husband is already talking about buying another scooter.

Even some McDonald's Happy Meal toys are confusing to me. I look at them and wonder just what the heck they are supposed to do. Their saving grace is that they don't need to be assembled.

But, I guess it doesn't matter what I think of them, as long as the kids play with them. I'm sure Ronald McDonald isn't losing any sleep over it.

My son's room is a veritable sea of toys of all kinds -- working, not working, broken, and devoid of batteries. We have a basket we use for fresh batteries, but my husband has a tendency to put old batteries he takes out of toys back in the basket, instead of throwing them away.

So, sometimes, when we think we're putting fresh batteries into a toy, we're actually putting in dead batteries. To exacerbate the situation, sometimes, the batteries he puts into a toy will keep falling out. The reason? Often when he removes the little cover with the screw holding it in place from the back or bottom of the toy, he throws away the screw.

Then, the back keeps coming off, because there's nothing securing it in place. So, he tries taping it, but that doesn't work too well. Maybe one day, he'll realize the manufacturer put that screw in for a reason.

In the meantime, I will have to keep fishing out toys that no longer work because the batteries are long gone.

Back to the bicycle thing. I finally broke down, put the bike in the trunk of the car and drove to the bike shop.

My son went with me, and when we got to the shop, I wheeled it in and told the guy what the problem was. It took him all of 90 seconds to fix it, by replacing a nut on the training wheel.

My son tested the bike by riding it up and down the sidewalk outside, and pronounced it in good shape. We drove home and he began riding it up and down the street, and the inevitable happened. The other training wheel started coming loose. Guess it's back to the drawing board.

Valerie Baldowski covers government and politics for the Henry Daily Herald. She can be reached via e-mail at vbaldowski@henryherald.com.