Thursday, January 19, 2012

Words no parent wants to hear: "This could be highly dangerous..."

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.


  1. Tee he! Love it! Should be more of it. Do you remember the 'taste testing' competitions we used to indulge in in the backyard? Now *that* was dangerous :-) x

  2. Ahhh, see this one I'm certain about. Half a dozen more kids and a kindergarten meth lab could appear in your garage and you wouldn't raise an eyebrow. I know this because my seven year old daughter just built a deck, using an electric drill and electric screw driver. Took me 8 kids before I progressed to that sort of apathy. You can do it.

  3. Aw this is so cool. I had a chemistry set when I was a kid and I LOVED it!

    Good on you for being so brave Al. I can't wait till Mr 2 is old enough to mix crystals and food colouring together!

  4. Oh i love his staged voice, all impressive for dramatic effect! He is a real scientist in the making!!! Oh what fun it would be to be 8 again xx

  5. I used to have one of these as a kid and absolutely loved it. Can distinctly remember doing the crystal experiment at home in my kitchen. Oh the memories!

  6. I love his enthusiasm. Particularly, doing experiments with a crowd. Very cool.

  7. I always wanted chemistry/science kits when I was a kid but dad wouldn't allow them for a girl. Then later these were vetoed by my hubby when I wanted to buy them for my kids. Damn!
    anyway, I eventually played safe and bought microscopes for the grandkids instead of chemistry kits.
    And you know what? I still want one!

  8. He needs a bunsen burner......that would fire things up....under strict parental control of course.

  9. Excellent title- which is why I retweeted it when you first posted that quote today. Sounds like the beginning of a GREAT story! Hmmm, speaking of blasts from the past, I wonder if you can supervise the sucking of a boiled egg into an old bottle, a la Professor Julius Sumner-Miller? That guy was a crack up.

  10. Sensational! Olivia will be MOST envious. She was given a crystal making set for Christmas which she has declared "not real science...not real chemistry".

  11. That's gorgeous - in a mature, intelligent, 8 year old science way.

  12. Lol - love it. Boy 1 was given such a set at around the same age. Mr Cautious took great pleasure in telling me that he
    "Would not blow up anything like you did Mum, I am reading the instructions and following them."

    Yes, myself and the flame-haired one blew up our playroom many moons back. The battle scars were on the ceiling for decades.

  13. You didn't ACTUALLY think Mr 8 was doing something highly dangeous, did you? x

  14. PS - I tried to recreate the taste-testing experiments for my own kids these holidays but... they wouldn't try anything. I don't know what I was expecting. x

  15. I love this. I love that he's playing with something like that and not a video game!

  16. That sounds like The Curiosity Show!

  17. Classic. And we were ALL about Young Einstein growing up. I LOVED him.... x

  18. Fabulous! We thrive on 8 year old dramatic tension here.


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