BB, my older son, loves parachutes.*  It started with the little flimsy parachutes with the little plastic guy tied to it that you throw into the air.  He quickly got bored with these lightweight toys that tangled easily and wanted to make his own parachutes. 

Being only five, his preferred way to make parachutes is to find some item that he thinks will make a good parachute (a piece of paper, a piece of flimsy plastic, etc.) and beg me and/or demand imperiously that I tie string to it and then tie some mini-doll (aka action figure) to the parachute before launching it off the balcony that runs between the bedrooms upstairs and overlooks the living room.*

Most of these parachutes fail because the “sail” part of the chute is not shaped right or something.  My memory of high school physics is dim enough that I cannot adequately explain to BB why these will not work.  So I’ve looked at this as a form of experimentation.  BB is big into science, so why not let him test things out to figure out what works & what doesn’t, right?  Anyway, we recently acquired in our adventures*** a lightweight plastic bag – the kind that has plastic bars at the top with little snaps – that he decided to make into his latest parachute.  I got string and tied the little astronaut guy from BB’s space set between the handles of the bag.  Launch.  The bag went directly, though fairly quietly, to the floor.  Clearly, insufficient lift or drag or whatever they call it that keeps people who jump out of planes from killing themselves. 

Later that evening, mr. jolt and I are making dinner, there is a very loud BANG from the living room.  “What was that?” I call out.“Just a parachute,” BB says.  I walk over to the far side of the couch and spot the bag with the plastic astronaut lying there.  It looks oddly lumpy, so I pick it up.  Inside is one of those large Tonka fire trucks.  It easily weighs 4 or 5 pounds. 

Fortunately, both the truck, and more importantly, the floor, survived impact (the truck also  narrowly missed the table with about 2 dozen picture frames which is why BB has not been grounded for life).  Clearly, BB and I need to have further discussion of weight v. drag/lift before further experimentation is permitted.

*Oh my.  It was only when proofreading this post that I realized that I hope he never, ever, ever does the real parachute thing when he grows up.  Please, BB, have mercy & if you decide to take the plunge only tell me after you have successfully achieved it. 

**When we first moved into this house we had a strict rule – No Throwing Anything Off the Balcony – we have since caved to pressure from the younger demographic to allow parachutes & paper airplanes. 

***We went to a car & boat show.  There is nothing more entertaining for two little boys than to crawl in and out of five million cars and pretend to drive.  Actually, LB, my 3-yr old, likes to get in the backseat**** and have me pretend to drive.  LB preferred the boats, but they didn’t let us get on as many of those.  I wondered, while sitting on some of those pontoon boats, what is the attraction?  I’d far rather sit near a lake or river where it’s a short stroll to the bathroom or the refrigerator than out in the water far from a functioning toilet or icemaker.

****Does this suggest LB has either a too willing acceptance of the status quo of being passively driven around or an early predilection to backseat activities that will require necessary but awkward conversations about backseat etiquette before handing over the car keys thirteen years from now?

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