I know I have ranted on in the past about public school and the things that the students (ie parents) are asked to do.  I have been in a competition with my wife to see which of us gets a better grade on our assignments that we ~cough~ help our 12-year-old boy with.  So far she is a little bit ahead, but I think I have taken the lead this time.

You parents have all seen the assignment.  Build a working volcano no bigger than the size of a desk surface.  The boy of course let me know this on Monday night with the assignment due on Wednesday.  No fear, I mean I work in construction, how hard can a volcano be.  The boy was very helpful, he told me that the teacher told them to use play dough and mentos with diet soda. 

Well for the average parent who is not that handy, then store-bought play dough and mints with soda would be sufficient, however, feeling a bit more than average (at times) I decided to go a whole new route.  Back to Google, yes, I love Google, and looked up how to make my own play dough.  Getting the big kitchen-aid down from its hiding spot, 10 pounds of flower, oh some salt, about 3 pounds of that, some vegetable oil and of course water and we started.  The boy quickly bored with the whole process and went into the other room to do further research (ie watch TV).  Undaunted I proceeded to make up about 15 lbs of play dough.  Molding it around an empty plastic water bottle I soon had a perfect looking, albeit white, volcano. 

The boy returned to the kitchen to get  a drink of water and was dumfounded that I had managed to create a volcano. 

“Wow, that is great Dad, now we need to buy some Mentos and Diet Soda”

Smirking at the boy, then telling him oh no, we were going to use Google and find out a better way.  Sifting through the search pages, thinking that Mentos and Coca Cola must pay a fortune to have their products listed so many times before finally finding the one I was looking for.  Yes, you can make a volcanic type eruption with vinegar and baking soda.  Now you more sophisticated parents already knew that didn’t you? 

Back to the kitchen, the boy nowhere to be found this time.  I rummaged around in the pantry and found the ingredients, using some exotic vinegar that my wife had purchased, but I figured the more expensive the better right?  I put some vinegar in the bottle and spooned in the baking soda and Zowie, instant bubbles that flowed out of the bottle top nice and easy, like a volcanic eruption.

Calling the boy back in from wherever he was, he looked at the bottle in the sink with the foam flowing out and was speechless, a major feat by the way.

“Wow Dad, you are awesome”

I must admit I felt pretty proud of myself.  I then went on and told him specifically to put the vinegar in first then the baking soda.  He nodded and half listened as he marvelled at my ability, who would have thought an old guy would be able to do this.

My wife finally appeared and with her usual lack of tact asked me what that was on the plate.  As proud as a new parent I told her it was a volcano. 

“Oh, I thought it was a breast” (editors note, I changed that word from what she actually called it)

Oh now I see, she is jealous, knowing I will surely get an A+ on this one.  I put the vinegar on the table next to the volcano, the baking soda in a small plastic bag with a plastic spoon and once again instructed the boy on the proper sequence.

Well yesterday was the day, he took his cool looking volcano into school.  My wife dropped him off and was quick to call me and tell me about all the other kids bringing in painted volcanos, some with landscaping, some really big.  She loves doing that to me at times, but I simply responded that our volcano was from the higher elevations and was snow-covered.

I got home from work before the boy got there.  He came off the bus and into the house beaming.  I asked him how the volcano went and he said terrific, it was a hit with all his classmates.  He went on to tell me that they all had Mentos and Diet Soda and the eruptions were, in his words, OK.  I then asked the obvious question about his.

“It was great Dad, I put about 8 spoons of baking soda in and then poured in some vinegar”

“But Son, you were supposed to ….” (thinking I had told him the backing soda last, not first) “….well ok then what happened”

“Oh that sucker blew like crazy, kids were ducking, the teacher actually let out a little scream and look” he opened his jacket and was covered in white speckles of baking soda. 

 “This is nothing though, a couple of the other kids look like worse than this and some have their hair coated in it”

My wife chuckled, saying something about a breast shouldn’t do that.

He was happy, he was a hit with all the boys in his class, but he couldn’t wait to tell the teacher and everyone else that it was his Dad that did it, including telling him how to make the eruption.

I really am not cut out for this parent stuff.