“My nephew is fascinated with anything science-based, but slow with the normal stuff like potty-training, talking, writing, etc. All the normal stuff took forever for him to grasp, but when it comes to science, he is a genius.
You know that disappointed look of ‘Oh, it’s just clothes’ you expect from young children who get clothes as a birthday present? We get that for toys, ‘Oh it’s just toys.’ For his fourth birthday, he wanted a chemistry set and fossils. For Christmas the same year he got an electronics set, he couldn’t read the instructions but sat for hours matching the pieces by appearance to those in the schematics and happily built circuits. It was only basic stuff, like a light bulb and a button to turn it on, but still, at four and on his own, I was pretty impressed.
From as early as he could express an opinion, he wanted documentaries on TV rather than cartoons, usually nature or biology but was happy with anything scientific. For bedtime stories, he wanted physiology and anatomy books!
But there was a point where it started to get creepy.
My parents have a conservatory at the back of their house. One door to the house, one to the garden, and both usually locked with keys in the house. One day, I was asked to get something from there, so I unlocked the door from the house and went in to get whatever it was. That was when my nephew locked the door behind me and I ended up trapped in there. He ignored my requests to be let out and just went back to watching TV.
Five minutes later, my sister came in, after a few minutes of amusement that I had been outsmarted by a little kid, she asked, ‘Billy, could you let your uncle out please?’
His response, ‘No I want him to stay in there forever. And please don’t feed him, I’m going to watch him starve.’
There is a big forest by us we often go for walks in. If we find any bones, we have to take them home for him. He’s six now and on his bedroom shelf where there should be a teddy bear or a Buzz Lightyear, he has rabbit hips and a skull.
There are a lot of Foxgloves in the forest too, which is a flower that contains digitoxin, and ingesting them will make you very sick then stop your heart. One time, he and I were walking along looking for bugs and things.
He pointed the flowers out to me and said, ‘Hey Uncle, do you know what they are because I do.’
I obviously do, but decided to let him have his moment and show off his knowledge, ‘No, Billy, I don’t. What are they?’
He looked at me suspiciously trying to decide if I was playing along or if he was really going to astound me. I put on my best dumb face and he said, ‘Uncle, you should try eating them!’
I asked, ‘Why?’
He said, ‘So I can watch your heart stop.’
My sister also had a rabbit. She had owned it since before he was born, so he and this rabbit had been friends his entire life. The rabbit was old and sick, so my sister took it to the vet. The diagnosis was cancer and it had to be put down. They could have done it there and then, but my sister chose to wait until the next day so she took it home for the night, explained to the kids, and let them say goodbye. She explained that Mr. Rabbit wasn’t doing great and had to go to the vet tomorrow to be put to sleep.
My nephew, looked distraught, and said, ‘But… but… Mummy you’ll bring him home again right? So we can still keep him in his cage and watch him rot?'”