Bioluminescence and a Badge for Beating up a Hippo

Over a lunchtime bowl of mac and cheese, Carter and I got to talking about what he wanted to be when he grew up.  It was a toss up between a botanist and a garbage man.

The conversation started with him asking me if glowing seaweed was indeed real (he had watched an underwater themed Scooby Doo episode earlier in the morning while I finished reading chapter 23 in my US History textbook).  I informed him that, it was not so much the seaweed that glowed but tiny organisms like plankton or algae on the seaweed that glowed and that it was called bioluminescence.  He was awestruck at the thought of it so I went on to tell him stories from my childhood, stories about his Grandpa who studies marine biology and taught middle and high school science classes.

I told him about the large salt water tank in the back of my dad’s classroom that was usually filled with flora and fauna from the Puget Sound that he and his students collected, observed, and released throughout the school year.  I told him about the octopus my dad was called in to save.  It had gotten itself stuck in a tide pool and some lady walking by saw it and was worried it could not make it back to the water.  My dad filled up a large garbage can with water and keep that multi-legged fellow in the front of his classroom for a day or two before releasing it back into the water near where it was found.

Carter ate and listened.  Then he asked if there were people who studied plants.  I went on to tell him way more than he probably ever wanted to know about botany.  He perked up when I told him that when a scientist finds a new plant or animal, sometimes they get to give that newly discovered form of life a name.

carter:  If I find a new flower I will name it Carter Family Flower.  Or maybe Crazy Head Flower, I don’t know which one!

We talked about how he would have to go to school to learn all about plants so he could be a well informed botanist.  He thought about it a moment and then told me that, no, he would rather be a trash man.  I told him that was a very important job too.

carter:  I am going to be the best trash man ever!  I am going to clean up the whole entire universe!! (Insert grandiose hand gestures here to express the vast size of the work he has chosen to do.)

I nodded solemnly and told him that the universe needed someone like him to clean it up.  Then as an after thought I asked him why he wanted to be a trash collector.  He told me that when trash men do a really good job they get a badge.  And he wanted a badge.  So much for altruism.

A badge.  Really?  The wheels in my head started turning as I thought of what this could mean.  I don’t like the idea of bribing Carter to do his chores, he is part of the family and is expected to help out, but he does have a very quick temper and sometimes gets destructive or physical.  It is something he (and I) have been dealing with, mostly unsuccessfully, for quite some time.   Maybe if he got a Better Behavior Choice Badge for when he hits his stuffed hippo and not his brother or rips up some newspaper instead of tearing apart his wall calendar, he would be able to get a handle on his temper.  I would be happy and he would be happy.

And he would get that coveted badge.

About Shoes

I am an elementary school teacher, a former microbiologist, a mom to a herd of two boys, and a grilled cheese sandwich and beer connoisseur.
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19 Responses to Bioluminescence and a Badge for Beating up a Hippo

  1. Why do you know so much about botany?
    Interesting job choices & funny bit where we hear Carter’s voice.

    • shoes says:

      I hung out with a lot of “plant people” while getting my BS in Microbiology all those years ago. I also was the recipient of a Howard Hughes undergraduate reserch award for two years that allowed me to contribute to the research on campus. I worked with algae, attempting to increase its lipid (oil) yield both by altering the environment it was grown under (Silicon/Nitrogen depletion and Light/Dark studies) and by genetically modifying it while working in the DNA sequencing lab. Very cool stuff!

      I think that I also learned a lot about science and nature in general since my parents were teachers with backgrounds in science.

      • Uggh – science. I am terrible at the subject. When people start talking science, it sounds like Charlie Brown adults to me. I was not given that gene.
        I do respect the subject and those who are practitioners of it.

  2. What a great conversation! Love the title too. Hope the badge for Carter works out should you give it a go.

    • shoes says:

      Hehehe – I enjoy coming up with silly titles. 🙂 So far the badge is just an idea, but I think it might help. I wish I was crafty with a sewing machine, I may have to simply cut them out of felt, use velcro tabs, and fabric pens.

  3. Nancy says:

    Great conversation between you and Carter. Good idea about the badge. I wouldn’t think of it as a bribe. There are people in this world who just need more of an incentive than others. I can relate. A pat on the back (or a badge) never hurt anyone. 🙂

    • shoes says:

      Carter is very incentive driven. He is also very food driven and that has got me to notice that a lot of his outbursts tend to be around the time he has not eaten in a couple hours. I am trying to have apples slices, oranges, carrot sticks on the ready just to have out to see if that helps any. But I do think I will give the badge thing a go. I just need to find the time to make them.

  4. I might need to come up with a few badges for our kids. 🙂

  5. The Waiting says:

    I wouldn’t think of it as a bribe, either. It is more of a sign of awesomeness, which he has in spades.

    • shoes says:

      Oh boy, does he. That kid has more awesomeness packed into his body that I would think possible. The problem with that, if one should classify it as that, is that Carter is very aware of his high reserve of awesome and flaunts it. 🙂

  6. If the badge works, go for it. There’s a fine line between setting a goal and being rewarded and a bribe…
    A friend’s little brother aspired at Carter’s age to work at the 24-hour grocery store…both his parents were professors, and didn’t find it funny….Poor kid’s a lawyer now, I think…

    • shoes says:

      I would love it if one or both the boys went into the sciences when they grow up. I tell myself that I will be happy with whatever their choice as long as it makes them happy, but that would be a little too cheerful and sunshiny to be fully true. 🙂

  7. Love the lunchtime conversations!!!! Hope school is going well for you! I say go for it with the badge. It might just be the one thing that works and you’ll never know until you try!

    • shoes says:

      I was up until 11:30 last night doing math homework that I did not get finished. It is a heavy load but at least it goes in waves so I have lulls between the next smack of tests, homework, and papers.
      I need to have some time to come up with some clever badges. I don’t think Carter would be thrilled with just any old hunk of fabric with a safty pin attached to it – he needs sparkle.

  8. Stephanie says:

    If he’s interested in a badge, I say go with it! Everyone is motivated by incentives, no matter what your age. 🙂

  9. dadbloggit says:

    Funny! My vote is for Crazy Head Flower!

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