What’s in plants?

Dec 19 2012

What’s in plants, Mom? 

It wasn’t an unusual question coming from the science-minded six-year-old. He wants to know how everything works right now. Ever-y-thing. And all the episodes of Myth Busters feed the fire, friends.

Just yesterday, for example, my kid couldn’t move on with life until he received an acceptable explanation for Pluto’s declassification as a planet. Since it was a snow day and Greg was working from home, I sent Boy Wonder to the parent who, well, cares.

Today, though? No such luck for Mama Me. Although I never manage to answer science questions to my kid’s satisfaction (we both know the string of but why‘s can only lead to the inevitable I don’t know; go ask your Dad), I was the only parent home, and he was stuck with me.

What’s in plants, Mom? he asked. And I thought, What’s in plants? What’s in plants? I know this one! Photosynthesis! But then I second-guessed myself because photosynthesis isn’t exactly in plants, you know? That’s more like something plants do. And, besides, it’s a little complicated to explain… light = energy, and… oh, I don’t know; go ask your Dad. So I thought some more. What’s in plants? What’s in plants? I know! Chloroform! But then I realized chloroform is the stuff you pour on your handkerchief when you want to kidnap someone in a dark parking garage or an abandoned warehouse. No, that’s not it. Not chloroform. Chlorophyll! That’s the plant thing! And it does… something planty. Oh, crap.

In a blinding flash of brilliance, though, I remembered high school biology class, and I yelled, Cells! That’s what’s in plants, man. Cells are in plants. They’re the building blocks of life!

And PHEW, right? Total Mama Win right there. It was a triumphant moment.

It was a triumphant moment that shouldn’t lose its luster just because my kid looked at me sadly, shook his head and said, No, Mom. That’s not what I’m talking about at all. What’s IN PLANTS, Mom? 

Do you ever have those moments with your kids when you’re sure you’re speaking different languages? When you’re positive if you both just talk SLOWER AND LOUDER, you’ll figure out what the other person is saying?

What’s. In. Plants. That’s what you want to know, right? About the inside of plants?

No, Mom, he said. And then he went on to explain.

First, he told me about Myth Busters.  (I knew they were somehow to blame.)

Then, he talked about uh-splosions. (You know. Uh-SPLOSIONS, Mom. Big, giant uh-SPLOSIONS! The trapped air goes up high and gets bigger and bigger and BIGGER inside the bag, and then KAPOW! It blows into bits!) Explosions. Bags. Air. Gotcha.

Next, he told me about the people who give us drinks on the airplane. (Flight attendants? I ventured. YES, MOM! he confirmed. If air gets trapped in plants in those girls…)

And finally, I pieced it all together.

What’s in plants? Oh. OH! You mean what are IMplants?

YES, MOM! What are implants? my six-year-old asked, exhausted and eager and all ears.

And then my brain uh-SPLODED, guys. KAPOW! Like that. Into bits.

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So, tell me. WHAT WOULD YOU HAVE SAID?

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UPDATE: What did I say? Oh, I wasn’t trying to be cryptic by not telling you. Truth is, I have no idea. I think I blacked out. I mean, words escaped my mouth. Words like boobs and bags and big but it was an incoherent blur, and I’m pretty sure I painted an unflattering picture of all women everywhere whether we have implants or not. My sincere apologies, All Women Everywhere. Also, I laughed the Uncomfortable Mom Laugh. I never laugh the Uncomfortable Mom Laugh. ARG! So now I have to revisit the conversation. I have to ask my son, you guys… Son? What’s in plants? Let’s discuss.

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UPDATE #2: Also. I took a picture of my TV last night. The boys were watching Myth Busters again. And, um, I don’t know how to tell you this, but these are Not Tadpoles, ladies and gentlemen,

and Coca-Cola does not work to deter them, so don’t try that at home, OK? This myth = BUSTED.

Also-also, I’m beginning to suspect Myth Busters may not have been developed with the six-year-old audience in mind.

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 Plant with Recycled Paper image credit KROMKRATHOG at freedigitalimages.net