Mad scientists on the loose

chocolate syrup and cranberry
Originally uploaded by Liz Henry.

Last week at Moomin’s 7th birthday party, we made potions and experiments with these great plastic test tube kits. I was cruising through the school supply store over on Industrial Boulevard when I noticed it would be about 5 bucks per kid to get a test tube rack and 6 tubes for them all for their “goodie bag” present. (I always like the idea of giving everybody something nifty if I can afford it, rather than a bag of candy and stencils and erasers or whatever else is out of the 25 cent bin at the party store. ) The mad science was a hit! We had three kinds of juice, chocolate syrup, strawberries, cola, and sugar. If I’d thought of it I would have gotten food coloring too. I put the different kinds of juice into smaller containers so that pouring wouldn’t be a problem.

Yes, they drank the disgusting concoctions. Wouldn’t you have? I used to think it was super cool to order a “suicide” at the roller rink – it was a mixture of every kind of soda, plus lemonade. “I’ll have…. a suicide.” (Wearing my metallic-thread blouse, white jeans, an Olivia Newton-John headband, and a gold belt.) Yeah, that was the epitome of coolness. Clove cigarettes were not far off in my future.

Our co-housing mate, the Acrobat, ceremoniously gave Moomin a copy of The Mad Scientists’ Club, which he felt had changed his life when he was little. I remember liking it too, and the sequel where the Club builds a submarine.

Last night Moomin and I started on Chapter 1. By page three or so, the boys in the book, led by Henry and Jeff, had constructed a fake sea monster on top of a canoe. Also, three times, women had screamed in fear and a teenage girl who was ignorant about science was quoted in the paper because she had a pretty face and nice legs. “This book is AWESOME… except for the sexist bits,” I pointed out by page 4 or 5 when some more women were screaming and Men ran for their guns. “Yeah!” agreed Moomin. “It’s awesome, but you wouldn’t run from a sea monster, Mom.” “Right, I would totally jump in the water and chase it, plus, just like you would be, I’d probably be smart enough to figure out it was fake. Or I’d be super curious and would take pictures.” “Right! Me too!”

Okay good, that’s settled, we can go on with the book tomorrow! I’m afraid I will have to continue pointing out the sexist bits, but that’s okay, it’s part of a realistic education; lots of people & books are sexist but we don’t have to be.

Even before I turned out the light, Moomin was whispering and counting something on his fingers, staring off into space with a huge dreamy smile. I was consumed with curiosity. “What are you saying, there, Moomin?” “Well….” “Oh, please, tell me!” (He usually doesn’t, but lately, will tell more often.) “Well, I was making up more of the story, or a whole nother story, where actually, the sea monster is real, and it’s bellowing because it’s mad that the people have polluted the lake waters, and it’s almost the last of its kind. Actually, Henry and Jeff find out there are 7 more pairs deep in the swamp, which I was just figuring out would make 14, so that’s 15.”

That was plenty and I was honored to hear it. I didn’t want to push him, or interfere in the direction of his story. I left him to fall asleep with his beautiful storytelling.

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