Wednesday, December 26, 2007

No More Mythbusting For That Kid

Ahh, the trauma we put our kids through.

Shots. Strep tests. Automatic flushing toilets. Mythbusters.

While we sat down to a leisurely late "we're on vacation and ain't got no stinkin' schedules" lunch, we were channel-flipping and came across an episode of one of our favorite ways to waste free time: Mythbusters.

You all know that show, right? The former special effects guys and their team take urban legends and tall tales and see if they really could have happened. The episode that got me hooked last year was the one where they put an ungodly amount of Pop Rocks and soda into a cow stomach to see if, in fact, eating and drinking those two things together will make your innards explode. 'Cause there was that urban legend that the cereal-loving tot from the Life commercials died that way. If I am channel-flipping on a Saturday afternoon, wanting to drowse some time away on the couch, that show's a surfing-stopper. You get sucked in, and they tend to play them in marathons, so you literally could spend hours watching two crazy guys blowing crap up.

Today's we watched with Ainsley, because that show's pretty tame. And the whole family was intrigued by the myth: exploding jaw breakers. Apparently, there have been two reports of kids getting severe burns after biting into large jawbreakers that got heated, either by sitting out all day in the hot Florida sun or from being microwaved. Consider yourselves warned: never, ever nuke your gobstoppers.

We thought it might be helpful for Ainsley to watch what happened as they proved the myth to be true, in case she ever wants to heat a jawbreaker (not sure why you would, but you never know; I tried to lick frost from the inside of our metal freezer when I was a kid, and lost a significant portion of my tongue hide, so who am I to guess what idiotic stunts Ainsley will try to pull?)

The guys made a big fake jaw that clenched with the same force as the average human jaw, Then they heated a ginormous jawbreaker. First, they cut into one after 3 minutes in the juicer and took a temperature reading; even though the outside of the candy was cool to the touch, the sugar deep inside in the innermost layer had melted and risen to a scorching 200+ degrees. Enough to burn you, and if you've ever made candy, you know the fun thing about melted sugar is that it sticks to your flesh like napalm.

They couldn't get the jaws to break the candy immediately, but on the third try, the jawbreaker burst and sent lava-like molten sugar everywhere. One of the crew members hadn't been wearing a mask, and some of the spray got her in the face and neck. Things got really intense and quiet as she hollered out and ran to cool herself off.

I'm not sure what finally sent Ainsley over the edge; she had done fine when they showed the burn scars on the girl's face who got hurt by biting into a sun-heated jawbreaker in Florida. But when the jawbreaker broke, and the assistant screamed, and Jason and I stopped talking to see this most interesting development, she put her face in her hands and got pale. Then she looked up at me, and said in a trembling voice, "I don't feel good."

Before I could ask her what was wrong, she herself was melting down like microwaved sugar. She started bawling and saying she felt like she was going to throw up. After some questioning, she 'fessed up; the horror of the exploding candy and the injured crew member got her.

It took some cold washcloths on the back of her neck and a lot of hugs (and a turned-off TV) to get her out of her plasma state.

I was a little blaffled that something like that could send her over the edge, but then I looked over at my husband, the man who had to sit with his head between his knees after getting light-headed during my first ultrasound, and realized she's just her father's daughter. Jason had to leave a college psychology class after watching a video of someone with a seizure disorder, and he doesn't do really well with needles and blood. (How he got through my bone marrow biopsy is a mystery and miracle to both of us.)We have kind of an understanding in our house that if someone gets injured and is presenting with blood or, heaven forbid, a dangling limb or a bone poking out, I am the first line of defense. Not that I'm iron-stomached all the time; when I had to learn to help my mom dress my dad's urostomy wound, I had to step out for a breather because my soul separated from my body a little bit under the hot hospital lights and I felt detached from all the action, which I've been told is how you feel right before you pass out. But I have dealt with a lot, and don't get too grossed out unless mucus is involved. If there's mucus, even I will start retching and won't be any help to anybody, in which case we're pretty much screwed.

So we learned a lot today. I learned that just because it's on the Discovery Channel does not mean it's appropriate family-lunch viewing. I learned that few things are more terrifying to skittish 5-year-olds than exploding candy. And, of course, I learned that heating jawbreakers is one of the most dangerous things you can do with candy. Who knew?

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