Tuesday, November 08, 2011

I'll pass on the Filet-O-Fish, thankyouverymuch.

I am often amazed and amused at the things I do as a mom.

Sure, we anticipate things like changing diapers, cleaning up puke in the middle of the night, or "saving" spiders who sneak inside and need to return to the outdoors (as opposed to squashing them like a bug, er, arachnid.)

We know we will do all of those duties through the years, but once our kids are potty trained and can relatively aim for the garbage during a stomach virus, we figure the extremely messy tasks of motherhood are passed  us.

Then there is the science fair.

It is the monster of all monster school projects.  As soon as you breathe life into it, it grows and grows into an enormous creature full of deadlines and log books and crazy, long words like hypothesis  (which is an if/then phrase, in case you forgot.)

And don't even get me started on graphs.

This year Daughter was not required to do a science project.  However, some of the kids could volunteer.  Guess who raised her hand.

We've always taught her to go the extra mile, to do her very best, and to strive for excellence.  It makes you a better person.  It gives you confidence. 

It gives your mom a migraine.

Daughter selected a few possibilities for her topic. One involved dog training, one explored the senses, and the other was related to bone loss.

She picked bone loss.

Specifically, she chose to test what will happen if you soak bones in vinegar.  Apparently this is a common experiment, so the teacher helped her find a twist.  Instead of simply soaking a chicken bone in vinegar, the teacher suggested she try other bones, and even compare types of skeletons.  At the end of our talk with the teacher, Daughter agreed and decided she would test the effects of vinegar on endoskeletons and exoskeletons.

Did I mention she volunteered? I did?

The experiment itself is simple enough and is actually pretty interesting, since different types of skeletons contain different levels of calcium which, by the way, can be broken down for different reasons (like pH, hence the vinegar.)  Her study won't solve your grandmother's struggle with osteoporosis, but it could point to some interesting facts about bone loss.

Are you still here?

She came home from our meeting with the teacher all excited and I was actually relieved because this experiment was doable.  Simple.  Straightforward. 

Until yesterday.

Daughter chose a chicken bone and a fish bone for her endoskeletons and a crab shell and oyster shell for the exoskeletons.  The chicken bone was easy.  I have deboned a chicken several times in my life.  No problem.  So I bought some drumsticks. Easy Peasy.  (She wanted the bones to be uncooked, so that is why I had to search for fresh items instead of simply going through the KFC drive thru and keeping the leftovers.)

Chicken bone- check.

Fortunately for us, we live in Florida where seafood is abundant.  So I stopped at a seafood market. 

"This is going to sound odd, but my daughter is doing a science fair project involving fish bones, oyster shells, and crab shells.  We aren't eating the meat, but I wondered if you have any scraps? Or can I just purchase one of each item?"

The shop owner went to the back room where they put all the fish scraps and returned with one oyster, which he shucked for me, and the tail and backbone of a flounder.

Let me just tell you that the next time you order your flounder fillet say a quick prayer thanking the seafood expert who delicately removed the backbone and tail for you so that you could enjoy a nice piece of flounder next to your sea salt baked potato.

Because yesterday?  Yesterday I was given that very backbone and tail and let me tell you, it is nasty.  I've cleaned fish before, but there is something about being handed a clear bag double tied with the remnants of a dead fish inside. 

This is why they created Mother's Day, people.

The shop owner did not have any crab legs or any type of crab, so I made my way to Publix.  I gave my same sad story speech about being the dedicated mother who helps her kid with a science fair project even though there is a fish carcass in her car as we speak, and could he please hurry up because it is almost 80 degrees out there?!

Maybe I didn't say that exactly, but I did ask for an uncooked crab shell.  Publix only had cooked crab, so I got back in the car with my flounder fillet trash and drove to Winn Dixie.

As it turns out, Winn Dixie is not only the beef people, but they are the crab people, too. They had crab legs and I asked to buy a small one.  The butcher took pity on me, snapped a claw off a snow crab in the case, wrapped it in butcher paper,, and wrote "No Sale. Mike."

Thanks, Mike.

At this point I was beginning to feel like a stray cat wandering from store to store begging for scraps.  I made my way to car line, cranked up the AC, setting the vents to the floor to cool down the flounder, and sipped my Starbucks coffee- a mom's reward for her dedication.

Daughter was extremely thankful when she climbed in the car and learned I had gathered her supplies, even though the supplies were starting to reek.

When we got home, I showed her all the goods.  Because they were not cooked, I took on the duty of cleaning.  Daughter wrinkled up her nose and watched as I rinsed, pulled, cut, sliced, and scraped at endoskeletons and exoskeletons. Then she bagged and labeled them all, and placed them in the frig.

It was quite an afternoon, a learning experience.  I feel like I have bonded with the hard-working folks at seafood markets and restaurant kitchens.  God love 'em.  I bet they got their training from their kid's science fair project.


Susanne said...

Oh I think you deserve a prize! The year my son decided to test the affects of different pop on teeth I was phoning all the dentists in town to see if they had "spare" teeth. (Now that was embarassing!) Surprisingly none were willing to part with any.

Sarah said...

Oh, blech. This is the first year of science fair requirements for us. Not excited. Not one bit. But my son wisely chose something to do with soda cans.

Janessa Chriswell said...

This is the best thing I have read in a very long time! You are a fabulous mother with a simply wonderful daughter as a result! Thank you for everything you do!

Janessa Chriswell said...

This is the best thing I have read in a very long time! You are a fabulous mom with a simply wonderful daughter as a result of your dedication! Thank you so much for everything you do!