“Sticks and stones may break my bones and they will also end up taking over your car.”

June 14, 2013

Notable Stats

Rock Hour (RH) – The conversion between 60 minutes in an hour to a real-time hour when there are rocks to be picked up by your children. Depending on the number of rocks, a rock hour is usually 2.5 hours.

Foot Laceration Rate (FLR) – The number of cuts a parent will suffer on their foot per time told to not bring rocks into the house.

I don’t quite get the fascination, but kids love rocks. They adore them. They want to collect them, bring them home, and put them in a high chair.

Never mind that as parents, we do everything in our power to let the rocks stay exactly where they were before our children saw them. Certainly some rocks are regal and brilliant. Sure, you see a ruby or a sapphire on the ground, by all means, pick it up! But the rocks the city puts out in the “dog friendly” area along the sidewalk should never be touched by human hands, but these too are apparently worth millions to kids under 5.

I used to collect rocks as a kid and I remember my Mom getting me a rock chart that had rocks stuck to a board with their names on it. Who could forget sulfur or feldspar? That kept me busy. So I get it. I liked rocks too. But that was a geological thing.

I remember being selective. It had to shine, have properties the allowed electricity to move faster, or could cut the hardest surfaces in the world. The rocks that had value or purpose, or both. But I am not clear as to why the rocks that are piled up in front of restaurant entrance, where the smokers go, are so tantalizing.

It isn’t just rocks. Our son loves sticks too. Sticks have a magnetic quality to them where any child who has a pulse will be drawn to them like a fly to syrup. He has to treat them like the lost remnants of the mighty sword of King Arthur’s Excalibur. They wield power, power to hack at an innocent Japanese Maple, power to swirl around and obliviously scratch the face of anyone of equal height. Sticks have to be touched and carried, rocks have to be collected and thrown. These are apparently part of their magnetic quality, as inherent as their weight and texture.

So I vote to change the periodic table to include a toddler magnetism value. Something to denote that children will or will not be able to control the impulse to pick them up, maybe even taste them. This reality does not depend on monetary value, just if they are within reach, especially when you are just about to get in your mini-van.

Of course, our mini-van is now a rock quarry. Every time I push its filth around, I find another stone that I do not want to romance. I cannot ever vouch for where this rock must have come from so I assume the worst, like someone’s poodle touched it first. First place could have been a cigarette butt, or chewing gum, but whatever gives you the most nausea that this rock has be massaged by hands that will soon enter a snack trap full of pretzels. Oh, and someone will eat those pretzels.

So fret not, it is a force of nature that kids loves rocks and sticks. We hope one day this leads to a passion for science, a will to build, a curiosity to recycle or learn about the life cycle of a tree, but I scratch my head as to why it all has to end up in our car, our kitchen table, or breaking our neighbor’s windows. It seems like a long way around to learn nature, and certainly not the cleanest way to gain that knowledge. Anyone have hand sanitizer?

- Doug Glanville

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