Last week Ian was watching videos on the iPad. He called me over to watch one he clearly found interesting. I hesitated. Minecraft how-to videos quit exciting me about five seconds into the first one I ever watched. If not earlier. But there was something unusually pleading in Ian's request, something very non-Minecraftish. So I joined him in front of the small screen.
Ian pushed play and together we watched what Ian introduced as "a cool experiment." The gentleman hosting the clip filled a glass halfway up with water, dropped one end of a dry rag into it, then dropped the other end into an empty glass next to the one containing water. Ian informed me, somewhat doubtfully, the water would be transported through the rag to the empty glass until both glasses contained equal amounts of water.
When the video ended, Ian asked me if we could try the experiment. I told him I was busy cooking dinner, but we'd try it later. I'll confess, it was one of those "laters" I believed and hoped would never come.
Wrong. Ian didn't follow up with me after dinner that night. But the next night, as soon as we were done eating, he asked, "dad, is it OK if we try the experiment now?"
Now I've never been a big science experiment guy. Just let me read the results in a publication or have someone throw them up in my face during a heated debate, but don't make me actually do the experiment. But this was my 6 year-old with new found enthusiasm for something academic. So to the kitchen cupboard we went. Two glasses, one filled halfway up with water, and one old rag.
Clearly the experiment wasn't hard to set up. It was the waiting that was hardest. Ian somehow thought that old rag would transport the water from one glass to the other with the force of a firehose. Not the case. But, after a good night's sleep, he got the results he was looking for:
It was great to see Ian's first experiment work out the way the guy on the video said it would. It was also startling.
It's the time of the year when I'm reminded just how much and how fast our boys are growing up. School starts up again and they advance another grade. They have their birthdays in November and December and age another year. And they start showing interest in things you couldn't have imagined a year ago.
As startling as it can be, it can also be very humorous.
A few weeks back Katie and the boys took Fritz to participate in a doggy Halloween costume contest. Long story short - Fritz won. He's strutted around the house ever since like he's the next coming of Lassie or something. Victories CAN go do a dog's head. But that was actually the subplot to the story in my eyes. You see, Fritz dressed up as Batman. And everyone knows Batman needs a Robin.
That's where Elliott came in.
I'll always remember exactly where I was sitting - what football game I was watching - when Elliott came around the corner wearing underwear outside of his pants. It was progressive enough that Elliott was actually wearing underwear (he's a boxers guy), but wearing it on the outside of his pants for all the world to see?? Elliott doesn't open himself up to the spotlight. Maybe he didn't realized it when he donned this costume, but some of the brightest lights in the world shine on people wearing their underwear as outerwear. Or, maybe like Ian, Elliott is growing into new ideas and experiments. Maybe he's growing into a more confident boy.
I don't know, but this was the final result:
Our kids are such a gift. The greatest part of that gift is having living room seats to watch them change and grow. To remember where they were, and to wonder, sometimes with fear and at other times with great laughter, where on earth this is all going. (For some reason at this moment I'm imagining a mad scientist who wears underwear outside of his lab pants).
I'm grateful for the opportunity to shape them. I'm humbled by how much of their development was preordained before we ever laid eyes on them. And I am suddenly a big fan of green underwear.