I’m all about encouraging the boys’ love of science. Sadly, they’re not satisfied with the science they learn at school, because television has taught them that real scientists use test tubes and Bunsen burners, both of which are tops on Porter’s Christmas list. A Bunsen burner = fire and last time the boys played with fire, (that I’m aware of) a parakeet died. Here’s hoping he adds more to the list in the coming months.
Porter has spent the last year concocting potions in his bathroom out of non-approved materials such as Pert, dirt, mouthwash, shampoo, rocks, toilet paper, and other household objects stolen from my kitchen.
This may look like a damn fine mess to you, as it did to me. Scissors, aluminum foil, the plastic case from an iPod, murky water– where’s the science in this?
“It’s a model of the Bermuda triangle, and the blue water is the ocean around it,” Porter said. “Can we go to the Bermuda triangle? But lots of people don’t come back, so we should take guns and parachutes and food and cell phones.”
“We’ll see,” I said. “But we’re not going anywhere until you clean up this bathroom.”
His scientific method was cutting into my grocery budget. He especially enjoys producing bubbles and relies on bathroom items intended for hygienic purposes to generate them. Once I came home just hours after a trip to the Dollar Store and found that he’d confiscated an entire cabinet full of shampoo, which he was about to pour into the bathtub to create a tidal wave.
I put an immediate stop to that. Porter needs as many cleaning products on his body as he can apply in one shower.
In a rare instance of exceptional parenting, I bought Porter a book full of science experiments and the supplies needed to perform them, in hopes that I could cut down on our toiletry consumption and steer his investigations in a more scholarly direction. Sandwich Bag Science contains 25 experiments that require vinegar, baking soda, straws, dried lima beans, Borax, and not a single drop of acne wash, conditioner, mouthwash or toothpaste.
Drew became equally obsessed with the book, and Porter and Drew ran through the first ten exercises in no time. I restricted their activities to the driveway. All was well until yesterday. Finn was home sick, I cleaned up a bit, and made a horrifying discovery in Drew’s bathroom cabinet.
I swirled the mixture around a bit but was unable to identify any ingredients, except the minty smell of mouthwash.
Porter disavowed all knowledge of the stuff, and proclaimed that he had moved on to sprouting lima beans. Drew squirmed under interrogation and finally confessed that he might have put some powder from Porter’s rock tumbling kit, toothpaste, blue Powerade and a squirt of Neutrogena face cleanser into the plastic cup.
“Mom said you can’t put anything you put on your body into your science experiments,” Porter said with the authority of a ten-year-old who knew that practice was so last week.
“Shut up,” Drew said, with the attitude of a kid with a couple of bullies in his class.
I was going to impose discipline, but I decided that being scientists was so much better than the alternative.
One year ago in My Tiny Kingdom: They Didn’t Analyze The Men So I Will
To encourage your kids to do a science experiment, tell them to get their butts off the couch and go outside because if they watch any more TV their brains will rot. Ignore them when they say that seeing rotten brains would be friggin’ cool.
Do your thing, pausing every once in a while to sniff for fire and listen for birds on the loose. (Feathers has been flying a lot more lately. Am I supposed to get her wings clipped, I wonder?) If you hear sirens, haul ass upstairs asap. Whew. Must be an emergency at someone else’s house this time.
Just before you cook dinner, see what your boys have done.
“Mom, look what we did with the tomatoes we planted,” Porter said. It was Porter’s idea to plant tomatoes and peppers. I was too lazy to buy one of those wire cone things you put around the plants to support them as they grow. I was certain Porter would kill them before the tomatoes ever got to that point. I was wrong.
Hey- look at the Contraption That Formerly Served As A Wooden Wine Rack That Has Been Rigged With Yarn And Turned Into A Tomato Supporter. I invented that. The wine disappears so fast that we weren’t using the rack for its intended purpose anyway.
“I can’t wait to see what y’all have done,” I said with fake enthusiasm. We got diverted by this caterpillar which Drew wanted me to fry and serve for dinner. I told him it was too small for five people and when he found a decent sized snake to let me know.
Those are some precious green tomatoes, aren’t they? Drew and Porter didn’t view them as cute fruit. They decided to cut a couple and see how quickly they would decay. They pierced one with some wire and hung it from the patio table where it would be pelted with the searing rays of the Alabama sun.
They rummaged around under the house and found a heavy-duty lamp a workman left behind. They put the other tomato directly under the lamp and plugged it in.
They poked each tomato with needles they’d rounded up from the closet, just for the hell of it. Then they sat back and waited for the maggots to descend.
“I think the sun will decay the tomatoes faster because we eat sundried tomatoes and that’s why they named them that,” Porter theorized.
“If it works we can have a lemonade stand and also sell sundried tomatoes and we can buy a Wii with the money we make,” Drew said.
Bill and I had to drag them inside for dinner. It was my fault for making sure they got their nourishment for the day; we all missed what had to be an electrifying sizzle.
There’s no market for lamp-charred tomatoes yet, but I’m working on recipes now.
Three years ago in My Tiny Kingdom: Isn’t Summer Over Yet?