Of course, we don’t really think the sprogs are dumb. Sometimes they just remind us that some of the things their parents find intuitive are not intuitive to them.
Dr. Free-Ride: (arriving home after an evening seminar) How were the kids tonight.
Dr. Free-Ride’s better half: They were fine. But, we had a conversation about boiling and … our kids are dumb!
Dr. Free-Ride: Really? What did they say?
Dr. Free-Ride’s better half: Well, I asked them what happens when you heat water, and [elder offspring] said, “You get hot water.”
Dr. Free-Ride: A good answer.
Dr. Free-Ride’s better half: Sure, but then I asked what you get when you heat it more, and [elder offspring] said, “Really hot water.” And then I asked about heating it even more, and [elder offspring] said, “Really really hot water.”
Dr. Free-Ride: Hmm, the old “super-heated liquid” gambit.
Dr. Free-Ride’s better half: And then I said, what about when we heat water in the tea-kettle to make tea? What happens when we heat it then?
Dr. Free-Ride: And the answer [elder offspring] gave?
Dr. Free-Ride’s better half: “It goes, ‘EEEEEEEEEEEEEE’.”
Dr. Free-Ride: To think when that child was a baby we talked all about intermolecular forces!
Dr. Free-Ride’s better half: To be fair, you talked about ’em, [elder offspring] just listened.
Dr. Free-Ride: Nothing calms a fussy baby like a chat about intermolecular forces. At least as long as you keep it qualitative.
Dr. Free-Ride’s better half: [Younger offspring] figured out the tea kettle answer, kind of: “It gets steamy!”
Dr. Free-Ride: [Younger offspring] is two years closer to the magical calming powers of the intermolecular forces talk.
Dr. Free-Ride’s better half: Anyway, I told them we’re going to be doing some science at home this weekend so they can get clear on phases of matter.
Dr. Free-Ride: How did all this come up anyway?
Dr. Free-Ride’s better half: I was trying to explain how you make glass by melting sand.
Dr. Free-Ride: Really hot sand won’t get the job done, huh?
Dr. Free-Ride’s better half: So [elder offspring] thought maybe you could melt quicksand, but then I explained that quicksand is just sand and water.
Dr. Free-Ride: [Elder offspring] didn’t realize that the water would boil off before the sand even got close to melting?
Dr. Free-Ride’s better half: Nope.
Dr. Free-Ride: Jeesh, so was it supposed to come together like a cheese sauce? ‘Cause those separate, too.
Dr. Free-Ride’s better half: So you see, we have to do some science with them this weekend.
Dr. Free-Ride: Phase changes and solubility and all of that.
Dr. Free-Ride’s better half: Yup.
Dr. Free-Ride: They’re not really dumb, you know. They’re just busy learning other stuff.
Dr. Free-Ride’s better half: Yeah, like how vampires make more vampires.
Dr. Free-Ride: Don’t underestimate the value of that sort of knowledge in the month of October. Intermolecular forces will still be around when November comes.