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Laura on Life

A Lesson In Buoyancy
By Laura Snyder
Jan 25, 2012 - 3:12:40 AM

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I wish I could somehow take all of the knowledge and information I have gained over the years and export it into my children's heads.

If I could do that, my kids wouldn't have to make the same dumb mistakes I once made. It seems rather inefficient on an evolutionary scale for young humans to make the same mistakes their parents did and learn the same lessons they did.

Parents do try, of course. However, we can't export information at the flick of a switch. It has to come out of our brain via our mouth. Unfortunately, there is something about a parent's voice that makes a kid stop listening. If the same information came from Mythbusters, a video game or Sponge Bob, it is automatically considered a fact. But if a parent utters it, it is suspect, up for discussion, or summarily dismissed.

Some kids simply have to learn the hard way. They are not wired to accept information from their parental units.

I've got one like that.

My ten-year old decided that building a raft in December was a good idea. I told him that I tried that when I was a kid and I got wet. He, of course, insinuated that I was dumb as a stump and was convinced he would have a different outcome.

He put together some branches with fishing line and roofing nails and was annoyed when, after launching his makeshift watercraft, he realized it wasn't high enough to keep him dry.

He asked for some 2-liter bottles from the recycling bin. He thought it would help the raft float higher.

"How will you attached them?" I asked.

"With nails."

"You realize that if a bottle has holes in it, it won't float, right?"

"They'll float," he said with a stunning degree of certainty for someone who was building his first ship.

He went out with the bottles, nails, and a hammer.

I went into the bathroom and starting running a warm bath. Not for me. For my nautically-challenged child who would soon be soaked to the bone.

A few minutes later, he came back with wet sneakers.

"As soon as I stepped on it, it tipped," he said, surprised.

"Really? I didn't see that coming."

"I think I need something with sides," he decided.

"You mean like a boat?"

"No-oo," he said as if he was talking to a moron. "I'm trying to BUILD a boat!" I would have chastised him for his sassiness, but I could see the future in this scenario, and I knew it wouldn't be long before he got his come-uppance.

"Oh, my mistake," I said looking at his feet. "I thought you were trying to find an inventive way to wash your sneakers."

Ignoring my sarcasm, which is another thing that doesn't penetrate a kid's brain, he asked, "Can I try using the recycle bin?"

"It's not wide enough, you know. If you get in, it will tip over." This pertinent piece of information merely bounced off his thick noggin.

"No, it won't," my little genius argued.

I sighed. No amount of logic would sway this boy, I knew. Better he tries his little experiment while I'm around to rescue him if anything goes wrong. "Okay, but don't drive any nails through my recycle bin."

He grabbed the plastic recycle bin and headed out the door. I watched him place his "boat" in the water. Balancing, he gingerly boarded his craft. Almost immediately, it listed to one side and pitched its passenger into the freezing water.

It must hurt when information finally penetrates a kid's skull, because he cried all the way to his bath.

Laura Snyder is a nationally syndicated columnist, author & speaker. You can reach Laura at Or visit her website for more info.

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