Projects and Inventions, oh no! Run! OK. I admit it. I am a "Projectaphobia." Whew! There! I said it.
I'm sure I'll be revisiting the nightmares form the next week. I'm hyperventilating thinking about it. My story is not pretty. It was a dark and stormy night.not really. The truth is, my boys are adamant at becoming scientists and inventors.
They have been like this as far back as I can remember. We have more than our share of projects and inventions as a family. Every project, including the series of adhesive experiments that wound up with the dog duct taped to the floor, has a story.
In my role in the family, I always seem to discover the boys' investigative intentions far too late. We have evolved into a pattern where in every project, I am the last to know the plan. This does not mean the original project plan but the one my husband and boys somehow secretly devised on their own. Typically these plans deviate substantially from what I remember as our agreed upon plan and project approach.
Ah, I still remember where I was and what I was doing the second I heard, "Mom! We need help getting the dog off the floor!" It was a crisp, clear autumn morning. The plan was a simple experiment in making glue which I carefully downloaded and printed from the Web. We talked it out and planned our project approach for the afternoon. While I cleaned up after lunch it surreptitiously evolved between the boys into making stickier tape. As I loaded the drier it crossed over into to seeing how many one inch strips of scotch tape in quarter inch segments could stop an ant.
I still have the bar charts and graph results from these efforts; they do track their results very well. By the time I scrubbed the bathroom the dog was duct taped to the tile floor and her long hair forever tangled in the mess. I have to admit the boys did a splendid and thorough job as poor Sally was hopelessly stuck to the floor blinking the saddest eyes I ever saw.
We ended up having to shave her to free her from the sticky prison. She hid for weeks until her fur grew back. Perhaps it was our last space station project that jaded me. My eight year old decided to forego a carefully crafted plan for his own "better idea." It was hours after I got home and began to make dinner only to discover he had epoxied all the teaspoons into a cut glass serving bowl of mine, favorite of course, for a replica Death Star.
I love creativity and George Lucas. I believe it is still sitting up in his room on his desk. My doctor told me the word "project" is what stimulates an autoresponse of cold sweats, increased pulse and dizziness. As I ponder my situation I remember a friend of mine once told me a very funny story about her teenage sons who decided to see if they could light dust bunnies on fire.
They would gather them much to her house cleaning dismay, spray them with hair spray, and then roll over them with roller skates to ignite them. The experiments stopped when they caught the house on fire. Ah, I anticipate the teenage years with great fervor. I daily discuss with my sons the value in aspiring to be musicians or writers or theorectical physicists. When it comes to my husband helping out, my stories are just as frightening.
He is not a "project" kind of guy. He is the evil emperor that seeds ideas of discontent and revolution in the minds of young men. He enjoins both boys to be independent thinkers then buys the supplies and disappears when the science projects begin.
There was the 1500 piece Lego starship he thought would be a good three dimensional mental problem solving exercise for our oldest son. While it did turn out to be true, it was my knees that had the arthritis flare ups for three months while sitting at the card table afternoon after afternoon. It was he that secretly planned the project on static electricity. When I discovered the true title was "Swinging Cereal" I quickly added up two plus two and realized the Rice Crispies on the ceiling fan were in no way a breakfast accident. As my Geraniums in the yard began too look a bit ragged, I realized too late it was he that evilly planned the botany project.
I found the wadded up, printed instructions with the terrifying heading of "Plant Fragmentation" in the garbage. Thirty eight jars of roots later yielded inconsistent results apparently but I stepped in and halted the work in hopes of saving a few plants in the yard. I use to turn to my friends and support network but they are of little help. Most of them are in the same position.
We commiserate with stories on the phone and emails. Compadres. It took my friend Sara weeks to finally get the burned smell out of her house. It took Phyllis months to get the last of the rogue white rats back in their cage. Candi is still looking for the odd item buried in the freezer that resembles lizard arms or tails.
For all of you with budding scientists I warn you of the future. Save yourself! Perhaps you to can have a budding writer or musician.
Joyce Jackson is an educational expert and consultant in northern California. For her latest book and information see Homeschooling Easy.