Back when I was teaching school and looking for ways to dazzle my students, I accumulated an assortment of magnets. I keep them in a plastic lunch box. Short, fat, round, square, wandish. . . . One is really powerful. It will draw a nail right out of the wall (Well, sort of.) My students always delighted in finding ways to play tricks with their magnetic powers—like hiding the most powerful one under their desk and moving items on top of it as some unsuspecting classmate happened by.
When we moved to the South, I put my magnet lunchbox in a trunk of “grandkid” supplies, and forgot about it—for a few years apparently. Recently my six-year-old granddaughter was poking through the trunk. She came downstairs and asked her father to help her separate the mass of magnetized objects she had found.
“Mom! What are you letting your grandkids play with?” he hollered.
“Oh, that’s my magnet collection,” I said.
“Yeah, with rusty nails and staples sticking out all over the place,” he said, holding up a tangle of tetanus producing possibilities.
I had to admit. It looked more like a weapon of destruction than a science experiment for a grandchild. My grand parenting skills apparently need fine tuning. But what I was more impressed about was my son’s reaction.
This is the same person who as a child lived in a tepee on a Vermont mountaintop and as an adult included a position in SWAT on his resume. I was surprised he had such a strong reaction to his daughter’s choice of playthings.
Amazing. We work so hard to make our children see things responsibly, and just when they do, we want to tell them—“relax.”