Just before summer, I began thinking of all the things we could do as a family throughout the coming months, as I assume most moms do, since school was soon letting out. While I was planning for the boys to spend their days in camp, I knew we’d still have some free time in the afternoon once I got out of work and wanted to make the most of it.
Around the same time I stumbled on an article on NPR.org about a science experiment that took place in 1740, giving me a different perspective: What Did I Do Last Summer? Oh, I Discovered How To Make Babies Without Sex. And You? I read the first few lines and it piqued my interest:
Ah, if only all summers could be like June, July and August 1740 — when three young guys (and a 6-year-old and a 3-year-old) did a science experiment that startled the world. In those days, you could do biology without a fancy diploma. More people could play.
Now, while I’m not ready to have the ‘birds and the bees’ talk with my 6, 4 and 2 year-old boys just yet, I was curious to know how two kids were part of this summer scientific movement. And more importantly, how I could get my boys to focus their curiosity in the same way, and do biology without a fancy diploma. After reading the article, and learning more about aphids that I really cared to know, I fantasized about all the great science experiments we could do together. Nature walks around the neighborhood, armed with a glass jar and an insect encyclopedia to catch and examine unsuspecting bugs.
But summer has rolled along and five weeks into summer vacation, we have yet to go on any walks. And I don’t have any glass jars. Or an insect encyclopedia for that matter.
And then things changed yesterday when I picked them up from camp. Well, sort of.
I was about half an hour earlier than usual so they were still outside in the playground. Once they saw me, they quickly ran up to me, being followed by a trail of preschoolers, excited to show me what they were holding in their hand. As they got closer I saw it, cupped in their tiny fingers, their treasured possession: a dead baby grasshopper. “Look what we found Mami! It’s a grasshopper,” said one. “And he’s dead!” announced the other, seemingly unbothered by the lack of life in that tiny little animal.
There it was, staring out at me – our groundbreaking discovery. Dead. Baby. Grasshopper.
I quickly realized my dream of the boys being part of a sweeping scientific revolution that startles the world is not going to pan out, at least not this summer. But, we did examine that tiny dead grasshopper quite intently. Counted all its little legs, and its little arms (actually, arm, I think one of them was missing). Looked at its tiny head and even tinier eyes. And they loved every minute of it.
Who knows. Maybe tomorrow we’ll even look up its latin name or something. Now, if I could just get my hands on an insect encyclopedia…