Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Wherein I Fail Again

Once again I've patted myself on the back when I should have been kicking myself in the butt. I'll get to that in a minute.

I was doing some science projects with the boys, making oobleck and gack. These are icky, squishy, gooey substances that are right up their alley.

Oobleck is just cornstarch and water; it is pretty surreal. When you pick it up or hit it quickly, it reacts like a solid, but when you let go, it reacts like a liquid. It actually defies Newton's third law of gravity, therefore being labeled as a "non-Newtonian fluid."

photo credit

We also made gack, which is glue, water, food coloring, and Borax. Mixing these makes a consistency between Silly Putty and Jello. (I was too messy to take pictures, but it looks really cool.)

The boys loved this messy science. Ralph however did not. He came into the kitchen and proclaimed that the stuff was getting all over the place. I told him that if he didn't get so close to the experiments maybe next time he wouldn't get it all over his pants.

Science is messy. So is life. Deal with it.

Anyway, back to the reason of my post. I've been trying to come up with cool activities for the boys (especially for the two younger ones) for the summer since

a) they are grounded for a month from their skateboards due to an unmentionable crime that was committed,

b) we can't afford summer camp, and

c) because they both proclaim that school is boring and they hate it. I want to show them that learning is fun.

So.... after the success of the icky, squishy science experiments, I started coming up with all sorts of activities that combined the curriculum they will study next year with kinesthetic activities that would keep them entertained. I had visions of them building their own pyramids in the back yard, making salt/flour relief maps of the different regions of the world, constructing ramps to test the forces of motion. Oh, yeah, we were going to have fun!

Since I hadn't gotten any materials for any of these activities yet, yesterday I simply left them with a large bucket with a bottle of dishwashing soap, a bottle of corn syrup, and some coat hangers, instructing them to create gigantic bubbles in the back yard with whatever materials they could find. I'd seen it work on We Are THAT Family; I figured the boys would have a great time.

Somewhere in there I forgot Kristen has young kids; tweens and teens are kind of over bubbles.

I bounded in the door after work to see what a great day they'd had, waiting for them to tell me that they had made a bubble almost as big as a house and that I have the coolest ideas ever. Instead, I found two boys (Aaron, being seventeen, had not even participated) with ho-hum looks on their faces telling me that their day had been a total bore. What?? Didn't you create giant bubbles?

"Yeah, but they kept breaking."

Did you try any different materials to see if that would help?

"No, we just used the coathangers." ('Cause, you know, actually coming up with another idea would take too much energy.)

I tried a different tactic. I sat them down and asked what kind of activities they would like to do this summer.


"What else?"

"More skateboarding." (Did I mention they are grounded from skateboarding?)


Now they've decided that anything I come up with is going to be boring. I'm trying not to take it too personally, as teenagers are supposed to think adults are boring and have stupid ideas. I'd really prefer they don't play video games all day, but since I work full time, I can't be there to ensure their misery with one of my "fun" ideas.

I can already tell some of you are saying to your screen, "Geez, lady, have you ever heard of a community center? Or how about letting the kids outside once in a while?" Since the unmentionable crime (see above) was committed when the boys were "out and about" at a park, I am a little leery of having them roam unattended. And since I'm gone most of the day, they choose to simply stay in their pajamas all day and eat nothing but cereal and watch TV. (Hey, it's better than getting arrested.) It's just hard when I'm trying to do the right thing and everyone around me is basically telling me, "Yeah, your ideas suck." I love my family.

Maybe I'll just tell them that the next time anyone uses the word 'boring' around me they have to go scrub the toilet.

Or pick up dog poop.

Or give me a foot massage. That'll teach 'em.

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