“I've been waiting for this for nine years,” says The Champ, whom last I checked, had yet to celebrate his fifth year on Earth.
He'd wrestled the box from my kung fu grip and was trying to pry it open with a plastic butter knife he'd gotten from the kitchen.
For the bargain price of $29.99 the science kit came complete with beakers, test tubes, safety goggles, magnifying glass, a tweezer, an eyedropper, and instructions for simple experiments we could have Googled for free.
Not that I mind paying a premium to excite imagination on occasion. I just don't relish the idea of a mess.
But I knew with his speed and determination it would be a matter of minutes before he'd torn into the slick cardboard box and littered the living room with an array of curious new plastic chew toys for the dog.
I also knew if that happened the potential for tears would be 100 percent since the potential for replacement stood at 0 percent. The only conclusion I could draw was that it would be impossible to predict when the tears would end given the range. I had to act quickly in order to shape the research.
“WAIT! There are some ground rules,” I yelled, slipping the box from his eager hands and holding it above my head as he jumped all around me as if on springs.
In order to be a real scientist, you must first establish a laboratory and keep it free of contaminates.”
“Good idea! What's a contaminant?”
“Debris or dirt that could damage your findings.”
“But what if I'm doing my speriments on dirt?”
“Then you'll have to have your laboratory outside, I just vacuumed.”
His sister just stared at me with her glancing look of disapproval. “You said that his lab should be free of contaminants ...”
“I know what I said. But what I mean is that I want to keep scientific evidence from getting splattered on the walls or ground into the couch.”
“Oh ….” she rolls her eyes in an inaudible assumption that I have no hope on that front.
As usual, she is right.
The phone rings, and within minutes Ittybit has proof of her theory. I leave the room to answer and he collects a box of food coloring and a gallon of water, bespattering a bit of each as he makes his way into his “cleanroom.”
I will feign surprise as I reconstruct the scene.
Why would he have any interest in cleaning pennies with lemon juice, baking soda and vinegar? He tosses the card. BUGS? He's seen bugs already and he'd prefer not to get a load of them under the magnifying glass. They look scarier up close and 10X their original size.
But mixing magical potions with food color, compost and pencil shavings? That sounds like very important work for a some-day-to-be nine-year-old.
He was ready for me when I returned from my minutes-long phone call.
“STOP! GET OUT OF MY LABORATORY!!!”
The declaration told me two things I could have easily guessed a week ago as I was plugging the numbers of my credit card into a secure web portal: He was working on his reputation as mad scientist; and no amount of vacuuming would salvage the cleanroom.
“Let's try that again, buddy … scientists are nicer to their mothers.”
“Sorry, Mom. Could you PLEASE leave? I have some sperimenting to do.”