Childhood Influences, Then and Now

Thinking about Jack’s expressions and gestures from his favorite tv shows like Lego Chima and Regular Show has me remembering the two big influencers from my childhood, The Preppy Handbook, and, almost conversely, the Valley Girl book, which in my humble opinion, led directly to the inability of my generation to speak a sentence without using the filler “like” several times. I can still recall my teachers cringing and impatiently correcting us: “Were you like late for class or were you actually late for class?”

They also made a Valley Girl movie:

Click on the movie link above for the best line in the whole movie: when Nicolas Cage is taking movie tickets, smoking while he works and wears 3D glasses. His ex girlfriend (the Valley Girl) comes in with another guy who asks if the movie is in 3D and Cage responds, “no, but your face is.”

And of course, Frank Zappa sang the song:

Which is not to say that I didn’t love watching the Brady Bunch every day after school, or reading anything and everything by Judy Blume (or even V.C. Andrews when I was a little older, although probably too young to have been reading such smut). But I guess my point here is how wired everything about Jack’s childhood is. We did away with cable in favor of Netflix streaming, much to Jack’s chagrin as they do not show Lego Chima episodes (YouTube does, but not current enough for his taste), and he is a pro at navigating the site to add shows to his queue. He even has his own laptop at school, and his 2nd grade school supply list included a flash drive and blank CDRW disks. Despite all of this, he still spends a good amount of time actually playing with his Legos, combining them in new ways every day, creating bigger and better vehicles and battles of the good guys vs the bad guys, regardless of whether they are ninjas, aliens, Chima animal tribes, or any other character, which I love to see.

It is so weird to be of the age as a parent when I remember being Jack’s age and can look back to see how so much of what happened then shaped who I am today. Many of the friends I made when I was his age are still friends 30+ years later. Tyler and I find ourselves saying things like, “When we were your age, cartoons were only on Saturday mornings,” which to Jack’s 24/7-Netflix-streaming, internet-connected mind must be barely comprehensible. Digitally speaking, he can watch what he wants when he wants to (assuming parental permission, of course!). This makes me think of Veruca Salt in Willy Wonka, whining “I want an oompa loopma NOW, daddy,” which is a line we frequently chime at Jack when he gets a little too focused on wanting something that can wait, like yet another Lego toy.


Acid Rain Vs. Chalk

Our last experiment from the Geology Rocks! book was on acid rain:

acid rain 1 In just skimming the picture, I thought we were going to somehow sculpt a person to use as our guinea pig, but in reading the actual items needed, this was a piece of chalk…I don’t know about you, but my chalk-carving skills are not such that I could make such a 3D, sculpture-in-the-round version of a person, especially wearing a hat! Plus, this was obviously made from a chunky piece of sidewalk chalk and all we had on hand are the small pieces of colored chalk I use to write grocery reminders on our kitchen chalk board. So here is my masterpiece of paper clip carving:

chalk dummy See the face?? I scratched in some stick figure arms and legs, too, but you can’t see them from this view. The book said to use “any” chalk from your local hardware store, as long as it was made from gypsum. Well, I looked but there was no ingredient list on our box of chalk, so I figured we were good to go.

We mixed a little water with some vinegar to simulate the acid of acid rain. Once again, we were without a medicine dropper, so we improvised with a drinking straw:

and now for the acid rain

readying the acid rain

After watching the chalk for a few minutes and seeing that nothing was happening, we poured the rest of the acid rain solution on the plate and waited.

Nothing. Apparently our chalk was not made from gypsum after all. Based on this experiment combined with trying to make our own chalk, I am making a mental note to stay away from chalk-based activities from here on out.