Saturday, January 30, 2010

Smashing Success

Yesterday was a no school day. Originally I had considered taking the kids on a hike since the weather has been so amazing (for you Chicagoans - it's been 50's with some rain, but fair amounts of sunshine too. I haven't worn a coat really all winter, although I have a new cute one that I wear on occasion just to pretend like it's winter). However, I woke up feeling slightly cruddy and of all the dumb things, I injured my toe last Saturday. It has been zapping me with pain every few steps for the past week and in theory, it will be better after another week of rest. SIGH. So I eliminated a hike before it ever really materialized. I wanted to make the day special, so I found chunks of time to spend individually with each kid while we were at home. I started with Grant.

I am not a science lover. In fact, I'd be so bold as to say I hate science. It was the one class in high school that I specifically started with the most basic level class so that I could avoid Chemistry as a pre-requisite for graduation. I attempted Chemistry as an elective, but dropped out after two weeks because it was as if the teacher was speaking a foreign language. I even chose my college major based on how I could avoid science classes.

Of course, my son will most likely be a scientific engineer. He loves EVERYTHING about science. The facts. The experiments. What makes thing work. What makes them not work. He checks out factual books at the library and pours over them, memorizing every detail. He's like a walking encyclopedia of facts that never once peaked my interest. His idea of fun is a certifiable form of torture for me. Can you guess what he wanted to do for his alone time with Mommy? That's right folks. Break out the Crystal Growing science kit he got for Christmas and do an experiment. Whew.

He painstakingly laid out the plastic table cloth. Read the directions and gathered ever last item that he needed. We periodically kicked the girls out of the kitchen as we read the fine print and got creative finding jars from the recycling bin and rocks from the back yard. His excitement was intoxicating and before I knew it, I was following his lead, gung-ho over science. Who knew?

I think Grant's favorite part was bossing me around and educating me on the benefits of growing crystals (a little feigned ignorance on my part was helpful to boost his ego). My favorite part was smashing the base rocks. Grant is all about following the rules, so he made sure I knew that smashing the base rocks "required adult supervision." He even rounded up a pair of safety goggles for me to wear while I was observing his physical prowess in smashing them with the hammer, "just in case some chips flew at me." He carefully set up Daddy's workbench with a 2x4 to place the rocks on so we wouldn't smash holes in the work bench, got down the hammer and checked for the "weak spot" in the rock. In all his preparation, he forgot to put his goggles on which I found to be utterly hilarious. Those were some tough rocks. He smashed and smashed to no avail. I took several turns and they wouldn't budge. Finally, we decided to trade the hammer in for the sledge hammer. Even with the sledge hammer, it took several well placed blows "in the weak spot" to finally get those rocks to break. We hooped and hollered when we finally had success and danced around the garage.

We came upstairs and finished the project. We even had to wing it in one spot which thrilled me and might have given Grant the start of an ulcer. But by the end of the day, we had crystals growing and the memory of a great time together with each of us stepping out of our comfort zones. Our science experiment was a smashing success.

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