Hydrogen atoms, Hangul, and shadow puppets


atoms and elements
Originally uploaded by Liz Henry.

Our science lessons are wild and lively, as many topics derail Moomin into lengthy explanations of comic book plots. “Oh! Molecules! I know all about them, because of Molecule Man’s supervillain powers over inorganic molecules, when he fought the Fantastic Four! Because, the Beyonder… ” Rook and I had fun with this, drawing diagrams and running around pretending to be water molecules. Our explanation went sort of like this:

– Everything is made of molecules.
– Molecules are made of atoms.
– Elements. Um. There is this thing called the periodic table and it’s really neat and you’re going to love it like mommy does.
– Atoms are made of even tinier particles.
– Er, um, there is radiation, and, um, waves, and particles, and you can’t see molecules and atoms, but everything you can touch and feel is made of them, and um. When particles slam into each other very very fast, and when a proton loves a neutron very much… Okay, I’ll shut up now; please ask your dad the physicist what a linear accelerator is.

I wish I could remember some of the wilder flights of comic book science. Moomin thinks he knows all about radiation, gamma rays, the multiverse, atoms, and who knows what all else. I’m thinking we can teach him the “real” science of all that stuff and he can then have fun with debunking.

This morning I took him to the cafe for a bagel. For the first time, Moomin showed interest in the newspaper. I explained what each article was about. Somehow this led to about the millionth drawing of his family tree. He wanted to know who was dead, and who was alive, and where the dead ones were buried. “Where are their graves? Why?”

Out of the blue, he announced that he would like to know how to speak Korean. He wonders if he could learn it in school. I said cautiously that he could learn the alphabet, and some phrases, from his dad and from books, and we’d see about it. In the meantime how about Spanish? No. He had that “I’ve made up my mind” face. He is happy to learn a little Spanish but what he’s really like is to speak Korean.

Okay then… home, and to the phrasebook, which is a probably inappropriate handbook for soldiers from 1955. Rook says it errs on the side of extreme formality. Am I going to have to find an after-school class, or Korean camp? Of course this would make Harpogi very happy.

I have the feeling Moomin wants to learn something that I, his mom, don’t know anything about.

As I write this he is practicing making shadow puppets on the bathroom wall instead of brushing his teeth.

It’s been a long, interesting day!

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