As a parent, we’re always told that it’s important to foster our children’s creativity and desire to learn. To encourage them to discover new things and to provide them with the means and the environment to do so. What you’re not told, as parents, is that like everything your child does, he or she will take these activities to extreme degrees that you cannot possibly sustain.
In my last post, I mentioned that my son has developed the notion that he will build a robot out of the materials pulled from our recycle bin. He has coupled this with a passion for “science experiments”, which as of late has simply been an excuse to dirty every piece of tupperware and mason jar we have in the house. I’ve boiled this experience down to what I call “The Seven ‘Lations’ Of Mad Science”:
- Titillation – In this stage, both the parent and child partake in the creative exercise. It is a pleasant experience for everyone involved. The child is learning and making memories. The parent experiences the joy of watching their child learn and grow. This is the only stage in “The Seven ‘Lations’ Of Mad Science” that involves a parent’s joy.
- Escalation – In this stage, the child begins pushing the boundaries of what is reasonable. The experiments become more elaborate, laborious, and messy. The child experiences joy as he brainstorms new and intricate ways to destroy your kitchen. The parent is forced to begin making excuses (often fabricated to avoid saying “I’m too tired”) to put off or gently put down the ideas.
- Accumulation – The child begins, on his own, to collect items to be used in future science experiments (in my case a garbage robot). These items are often pulled from recycle bins, waste baskets, or simply found outside. This is a highly unsanitary stage and your home will become infested with ants. Your child will likely then wish to keep the ants for future science experiments.
- Overregulation – As a parent and reasonable human being, you are forced to set strict boundaries on the experiments your child is able to perform and the items he is able to retain for science. Expect resistance in this stage. Resistance can manifest itself in many forms. I, for example, have seen fits of rage, quiet brooding, feigned hearing impairments, and the always feared, insincere compliance in the form of “FINE”.
- Capitulation – In this stage the child’s resistance reaches critical mass. As a parent you begin questioning whether your overregulation is right. Are you holding back a great mind? Are you stifling growth? You concede that science experiments can be done, as long as they are “done outside” and robot parts must be kept “only in your room”.
- Isolation – Your child becomes increasingly withdrawn. His bedroom door is frequently closed. You can hear hammering at all hours of the night. When you listen at the door, you often hear maniacal laughter or the utterance of “potty language”. As a parent, you use this time to do the dishes or catch up on laundry.
- Annihilation – The garbage robot is complete. It becomes self aware and destroys your home. Even as you stare out at the smoldering ruins, you can’t help but feel proud of what your child created.
I forget where I was going with all of this, but take heed. You have been warned.
Don’t forget to click “Follow” on the right hand side of the screen. The Garbage Robot has been reprogrammed to track-down and terminate those who don’t.