When I was little, I remember my mom making Kool-Aid. I have pictures around of me wearing my token Kool-Aid mustache. I even had a Kool-Aid t-shirt. I remember sometimes the Kool-Aid would seem, well, watery. Did my mom dilute it on purpose? Boy, I hope she didn’t. Sometimes, I wondered if she was sneakily reducing my sugar and artificial color. I do remember telling myself that when I got older, I would never dilute the Kool-Aid!
But guess what? While I do my best to make the Kool-Aid at home to the recipe, I have to admit I water down the kids’ lemonade and fruit punch at the fast-food restaurant beverage machines. It’s just instinct, I WANT to dilute!
This diluting of the Kool Aid is now a metaphor I’ve been giving to the crime of watering down — or dumbing down — answers to the questions kids ask. JennT posted earlier this week about the incessant “Why? Why? Why?” questions she receives from her kids and in her line of work. My kids do the same thing, and sometimes it grates my nerves for sure! But sometimes embedded in all of the silly mindless “Why?”s is a jewel of a question that my sons are truly curious about. And when my just-as-geeky-as-me husband or I hear such a question we want to stop and give it our full attention!
And if it’s a science or math question? Stop EVERYTHING! Break out the props!
My husband and I had a great professor in college who has a pet peeve about “bad meteorology” to the point he made up a website dedicated to debunking several of the most-basic of meteorology myths. A quote he said that has stuck with my husband Dave all these years was “Be very careful what you put into kids’ heads because it’s very hard to get it out!.” Dave and I take this very seriously with our kids.
So when our sons ask a question like “Why is the sky blue?,” our approaches to the answer might be a little different than non-geek parents. For a pair of meteorologists with offspring, we waited for that very question with bated breath, as if it were a milestone like learning to walk or ride a bike!