It takes very brave* parents to buy an eight-year-old boy his own ‘science experiment’ kit. Complete with microscope, telescope, slidey things and chemicals marked ‘poison’ and ‘danger’ and ‘do not ingest’. Brave** parents indeed to overlook the Poisons Information information in said kit and still hand it on over anyway.
Mr8 is in full experimental flow. We have made sugar crystals (coloured yellow) and salt crystals (coloured green) and all manner of Food-Colouring Potions. I like Food-Colouring Potions. They change colour. They blend together. They do not blow up.
“But they don’t do anything,” points out Mr8. “And they all end up murky brown.”
Good point. Safety does not a scientific breakthrough make.
So he has progressed to the ‘chemicals’ in his set. He gloves up (complaining constantly about the smell of the ‘safe for food handling’ latex gloves). He puts on his safety glasses which, together with his shock of brown hair, make him look all together too much like Yahoo Serious (now whatever happened to him?) in Young Einstein.
Today he had some friends over. I was inside, doing mum stuff, and they were all on the deck, performing ‘experiments’. They had poured vinegar on bicarb with spectacular, spewing, frothing results. Then there was a sudden hush. And through the window floated Mr8’s voice. Earnest. Serious. With the clipped, precise tones of a BBC radio announcer, circa 1952:
“This… could be… highly… dangerous.”
It would take a brave parent to ignore those words and go about her ‘mum stuff’, leaving boys to be boys. I am not that optimistic. I tore popped outside to find them all sitting around him as he used his tweezers to drop a small plant, roots and all, into a weak, coloured solution. They all looked at me. I looked at them.
“As you were,” I said, strolling back inside.
I’m not entirely sure that science has won out over drama in Mr8. Not yet.
*brave in the sense of optimistic…
**okay, brave in the sense of silly.