7yo:”Daddy! How do you spell ‘chemicals’?” Me:”Why?” 7:”Just looking something up on internet, how do you spell ‘explosive’?” *worried face*
We encourage our children's creativity. Both J and I believe it's important to do so. To channel their energies. Harness their ideas. Encourage them to think as widely and openly as possible.
There are, of course, consequences to this.
Both our children like to help cook. Which is good. And bad.
Attempting to get dinner on the table within 30 minutes. While your three year old is demanding loudly to have a hand in cutting the vegetables with the flat side of a very blunt children's knife can be just a little bit stressful.
As is her tendency to attempt to cut the vegetables put in front of her into her shape of the day. Sometimes Teddy Bears. Or Stars. Or even Daddy.
Of course, they all end up the same. Serrated edges. Slightly mashed.
I learnt a little while ago that my friend is celery in these situations. A piece of celery goes a long way when your toddler wants to help with the cooking. Just so long as none of it actually reaches the pot we're fine.
Baking can be a delight as well. Even more so since we saw the ubiquitous Frozen a few months ago. So much opportunity for creativity here.
So many substances used in baking can resemble snow when spread around the kitchen. And there is no better utensil to ensure said white powder is spread around the kitchen that the food processor. Flour. Sugar. Baking Powder. All spread wonderfully. Widely. Finely around our kitchen as we recreate Queen Elsa's flight into the mountains, singing 'Let it Go' of course as we proceed on our way.
Our son chooses to channel his creativity in different directions. He's artistic. Loves drawing and making things. And is musical. Sings and plays the piano. He sings a lot. He sings to himself. And he sometimes sings his feelings.
Sung messages of hurt, anger, happiness, depression. Some subliminal. Some overt.
What makes it all the more confusing is that occasionally you can't tell whether he is singing lyrics he has made up himself or whether he is singing a song we've not happened to have heard yet.
J is better at this game than I am. He listens more often to the radio in the car while commuting and travelling around. He's therefore a bit more down with the kids when it comes to popular music.
More than once I've asked our son if he's OK after he's repeated lyrics about pain or heartbreak only to find he and J looking at me as if I'm mad. Telling me these are the lyrics of the latest hit that's completely passed me by, sung by a band of whom I've never heard.
Of course, there are also the times when his sung soliloquy provides a window into his mood. His soul even. That's when the creativity of singing is good. When it's used to all our advantages in helping him.
Then there's also the music. That's less good. He's still learning. And appears to prefer to do his scales while the keyboard is playing a disco version of Ode to Joy as background music. Irritating doesn't cover it.
Our son also loves to use the computer. We're careful about its use. Limiting the time spent. Monitoring the sites. Using his own, protected, profile to do so.
One of greatest fears has always been that attempts by his birth family to find him will start with the internet and social media. That's why you'll only ever see a picture of the back of his head. Why he and our daughter are only ever referred to by their ages.
Our little boy is aware of our concerns and sensible and safe about his computer use. This, naturally enough given his age, mostly comprises game playing and looking at the options for spending his pocket money available in online toy stores.
He has begun to use the internet for homework research of late. Closely supervised by us, more to check he's not moving tabs to play online games rather than looking at anything he shouldn't.
So his internet creativity is good? Yes. Sorry of..
And then there's this.
Saturday morning. J is at work. Our daughter is in front of the tv watching her latest cartoon of choice.
Our son is using the computer. "Daddy," he calls. "How do you spell 'chemicals'?"
I spell out the word for him. Then stop myself. Why did he need to know how to spell that particular word. He has no science homework. It's not something that normally enters his vocabulary.
"I didn't get that, say it again please," he calls.
"Why do you want to know?" I reply. Curious rather than alarmed.
"Oh, got it." He replies. "I'm just looking something up on the internet, how to you spell 'explosives'?"
OK. Now I am alarmed rather than curious.
"What are you looking for?" I call, heading for the study. By this point I am envisaging a knock at the door at any moment from MI5 agents. Having traced suspicious internet searches they are here to arrest whoever was last using the computer. My computer!
Sliding to a halt outside the study door I ask again, more urgently: "What are you trying to do?"
Our son looks up, innocent faced. Surprised. "I want to make one of those tabletop volcanos Dad made the other week. I can't remember what he used for it."
Ah. Relief reigns. Creativity. positive creativity restored.
"OK, best to search for 'table top volcano', I think," I call.