Logan seems to have entered a new phase of destruction. When he was a toddler, it was flushing utensils, toys and other unidentified items down the toilet. When he was 3, he somehow managed, in the space of just minutes, to swipe and lose my engagement and wedding band set (to this day I haven’t found it). He has cut up, marked up, glued up, dumped out and stickered up all sorts of household items in his short lifetime.

Thankfully, there was about a year-long lull. Not much happened in the wreckage department and I figured maybe he had finally outgrown his curious tendencies.

Unfortunately, he has not.

About a month ago, I found a now-ancient and nearly impossible to buy LeapPad in pieces in his room. He had taken it apart and damaged it in the process, rendering it useless. I calmly tossed it in the trash and let it pass because I know he didn’t mean to break it; he was simply curious. I did have a talk with him about breaking his toys, whether intentional or not.

Just the other night, though, as I went in his room to tuck him in, I saw the only other LeapPad in our possession on his bed, also dismantled. A telltale small screwdriver sat next to it, as did a pair of kiddie scissors, with which he had cut every last wire on the gadget.

“Logan,” I began, exasperated.

Following my gaze to the mess at the foot of the bed, Logan interrupted me before I could get any further.

“I’m sorry, Mom. I want to see how everything works. I have to know. I just HAVE to know!”

“You just HAVE to know,” I repeated, thinking of stories my own mother told me about how she was constantly in trouble as a child for taking things apart to see how they worked. I just wanted to see, I heard her say in my head. I didn’t mean to break things, but I got punished anyway.

It was a good thing for Logan that this memory came to me because I’m not the sort who cares how anything works. It would never occur to me to waste my time taking something apart because I couldn’t care less about what makes it do what it does. In fact, if a giant green glob of slime were to suddenly fall from the sky, I’m the type who would look at it, shrug, and walk on, chalking it up to some mysterious force of which I was simply unaware.

Sighing, I told Logan that while I understand that he’s curious, he can’t take things apart without asking. Though I was seriously annoyed and cross, I was also secretly glad that he has the curiosity that he does. After all, it’s the curious minds that find cures for diseases, discover new inventions and figure out how to fix a car, a vacuum cleaner or a furnace. The world needs these people. I’ll just have to try to find experiments for him to do to help satisfy his craving for knowledge.

I just hope that in the interim between now and Logan’s eventual flight from the nest, nothing I seriously care about falls victim to his experiments.

Do you have a curious mind in your house? How do you satisfy the curiosity without sacrificing your precious belongings?

7 Responses to “The curious mind”

  1. Rosey says:

    If it’s any consolation, I have a brother who always tore things apart when he was little. Today he is grown and makes a VERY successful living tearing things apart, and he couldn’t be happier. I’m sure all of his years of dissassembly played their role. Word of warning though, if he’s as intense as my brother was, do NOT buy a video console at any point during his childhood. 😉 GL 🙂

  2. Ron S. Doyle says:

    Sarah, I loved this post—it was, um, very familiar. 😉

    There are a couple of things that you can do to quench this thirst without trashing everything!

    First, offer expired machines as sacrifice to the curiosity gods. I guarantee you have old stuff around the house that fits the bill. A bicycle alone can become a lifelong source of mechanical discovery and can almost always be fixed once torn apart. Turn the water off in your house for a few hours and let them learn how plumbing works.

    Second, you can offer unbuilt objects (e.g. furniture that needs assembling, model cars and planes, etc.) to help foster the “put it together” spirit, which is the “take it apart” spirit in reverse.

    Also, there was an unspoken rule in my house growing up—you can’t take anything apart unless you can successfully put it back together. I learned how to lay out pieces in a very organized manner, I learned to stop cutting wires or messing with objects that required tools I didn’t have. Before long, my brother and I gave up on dismantling things that worked and started fixing things that were broken.
    Ron S. Doyle´s last blog post ..I just committed Second Life suicide

  3. I agree, offering up broken and/or hopelessly obsolete electronics is a good idea. I took apart lots of that kind of stuff when I was a kid. Now people trust me to take apart a computer that costs upwards of $50,000, swap some parts, put it back together, and have it work like it’s supposed to.

    You might look into Popular Mechanics for Kids (the books, the magazine, or DVD) once he reaches age 8, if he isn’t already.

    One piece of advice though: If he takes a desktop computer apart, don’t let him open up the big square box with the power plug on it. Even if the computer is unplugged, that component can store enough juice to give a nasty jolt. I learned that the hard way, when I was old enough to know better (about 17). And don’t let him take apart a CRT TV or monitor without an experienced mentor present, as those can store up lethal voltages.

  4. Judy Goranson says:

    Oh, yes, I remember your mother! 🙂 And I have so admired that mindset that she continues to have! And like you, Sarah, I can’t identify with it as I couldn’t care less how things work either! Go, Logan!!! Wonder what mark he will make in the world? 🙂

  5. N.Garcia says:

    I’ve learned that belongings are overrated. A boys curiosity could be endless. I use the “if you break it you fix it”. Even if it can’t be fixed, it turns out it is just as fascinating to try to put it back together and see if it will work again.

  6. Thanks so much for the input, Ron and Dave. It’s great to hear from two grown-up curious male minds. Your ideas are awesome and I’m planning on putting them into play as soon as I have a broken/old machine or electronic device or something to put together that I don’t care about too much.

    Thanks for the warning about desktops, CRT TVs and monitors, Dave. I never would have realized that.

  7. Oh, yes, I remember your mother! 🙂 And I have so admired that mindset that she continues to have! And like you, Sarah, I can’t identify with it as I couldn’t care less how things work either! Go, Logan!!! Wonder what mark he will make in the world? 🙂

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