The kids’ Kaleidoscope class has been busy once again. Every other year, the school buys a bunch of frogs and teaches the kaleidoscope class kids to dissect and this was the year. This year was made more notable by three things:

  1. The older kids actually got rats to dissect
  2. Erin is in Kaleidoscope this year and got to participate
  3. Two kids passed out – Whomp!

The dinner table conversation last night was not the most appetizing.

Actually, I was playing golf last night but we did talk about it the night before and some last night after I got back but that didn’t make it any more appetizing because both kids brought the body parts home in a bag. I can imagine the teacher wondering what to do with all the preserved body parts (probably characterized as ‘toxic waste’ by the school system) and hitting on the idea of turning them into souvenirs for the kids. If I were on the outside looking in, I would admire her creativity but as a man with dead body parts in my refrigerator, I’m not so charitable.

Erin had been really looking forward to it because that’s something that “big kids” do but her report was pretty simple and succinct:

“We found all the parts.”

Somehow I had suspected more than that. She did get her bag and show me all the parts like the liver, stomach, tongue, etc. It’s been a long time since I dissected anything and my queasiness threshold is not what it once was. I wound up not eating any dinner.

Evan, on the other hand, was downright excited. Melissa had been to school to help on both days (and to take pictures – of the kids, not the frog parts). She reports that both kids did well but that Evan was really into it (so to speak). His teacher reports (in between Pepto Bismol tablets) that Evan has the makings of a surgeon. I wasn’t there but wish I had been because his teacher reports that two kids passed out. It must have been intense. I think that part of it is that the rats, after sitting in their preservative for so long, had turned a yellowish color. Also, their bodies had been injected with some sort of dye to make the blood vessels more visible but all that color was too much for some. Unlike the frogs which were pretty much just gray and green like you’d expect. So there they were, two kids down and several others turning green and Evan whittling away. Evan’s group it seems was pretty squeamish and they all adopted as much of a hands-off attitude as possible except for Evan who shunned the rubber gloves because they decreased his dexterity and was therefore in up to his wrists. He enthusiastically reported on all body parts and how difficult some of them were to extract. Again, my appetite took a nosedive. Indeed, it’s taking nosedive now too.

He then asks:

“How much money do doctors make?”

Ding! Time for a parental career advice moment!

“Lots and lots of money.”

He smiled.

With his artistic abilities coupled with these new found skills, I was thinking “Oh yeah! House on the golf course, baby!” Cha Ching! Well, he’s only 11 – we’ll see.

Erin was a trooper too but she was apparently partnered with like-minded kids and they all contributed equally. Even she drew the line though at bringing the body bag to the dinner table. She just about lost her macaroni and cheese when Evan brought out the rat-in-a-bag. In some ways, she was more business-like about the whole thing. The job was done, she and her team got good marks for it and it was over. She remembered quite a few details though; how many of the frogs in her class were males, how many females, which groups couldn’t find certain organs and ideas about why, what some of the stomachs contained. Evan’s remembrances centered around his revelations at understanding how things worked.

Two years ago, Evan had his first go at the dissection thing and, being a kid, wanted to give the poor creature a proper burial. Since they are preserved, burial doesn’t quite go the same way that burials normally go and he wound up digging it up every few days to check on its ‘progress’. It took a long time. It may still be there for all I know.

So now, the question is: How do we encourage our children’s enthusiasm for learning and at the same time get those dead animals out of our house? I could use some advice here.