In my Holiday Gift Guide for Boy Toys I mentioned that we don’t encourage TV, computer or video games in our house. In fact, I strongly discourage them. I don’t judge those of you who allow them; it’s just that I was a huge nerd growing up, and when I wasn’t inside reading I was outside catching crawdads in the creek, playing Little House on the Prairie (as the oldest, I always got to be Mary), building tiny mud houses and churches for ants, playing kick-the-can, or (sigh) reading. If I didn’t watch television, by God, my boys aren’t going to!
Of course, we hoped that while the boys weren’t watching Sponge-Bob they’d be avidly reading, expanding their vocabularies at a breath-taking rate, spending more time on their instruments, thus becoming virtuoso performers, and honing their writing and drawing skills. Or perhaps they’d go in another direction and organize games of four-square and football and spend hours on their bikes. They would increase their endurance, muscle strength and sense of sportsmanship. Plus, we’d have time to identify each boy’s strongest sport in order to commence training for the 2012 London Olympics.
We’ve been extremely pleased with the activities the boys have come up with to amuse themselves, including:
1. Fun With Toilet Paper
The boys are long out of diapers and skilled at using toilet tissue for its intended application. Finn then began a project to devise other ways to incorporate the product into daily life. By far the most popular was “Roll the Interior of Daddy’s Car” which required only toilet paper, duct tape, and stealth. Upon discovery of the vandalism, Bill exhibited the perfect amount of histrionics and laughter, making this a very fulfilling post-shower enterprise.
We don’t have much opportunity to snowski, so the guys have to resort to other means to practice their skills on the slopes. A plastic laundry basket slithering down carpeted steps provides the perfect low-friction platform for attempting basic downhill maneuvers. No snowsuit necessary.
3. Science In The Kitchen
Preparing a bagel with Munster cheese is so very ordinary. Mixing science with snack time makes food lots more entertaining.
Experiment: What happens when you ice the melted cheese on a bagel?
Hypothesis: The Munster will unmelt and return to its flattened, square form.
Procedure: Porter prepared a bagel with melted cheese. He then applied ice to the cheese and waited for it to resume its previous shape so it could be reinserted into its original package. He withstood substantial skepticism from his brothers throughout the duration of the scientific process.
“Porter, that is not going to unmelt. You’re just going to end up with a wet bagel,” Finn commented derisively.
“It might unmelt, but you’ll have to hold the ice there a long time and you’ll get frostbite and have to have your fingers cut off, so I don’t think it’s worth it,” Drew opined.
“It’s my bagel,” Porter said. “When the ice melts, the cheese will unmelt.” He continued icing the bagel confidently.
After fifty-five minutes, the experiment was deemed concluded.
Result: Cold fingers, melted cheese, soggy bagel.
I have plenty more examples of the useful activities the boys have pursued while being banished from the tube, which I am happy to share.