Monday, March 10, 2014

On-the-spot metaphors

I often find myself trying to come up with a concrete and/or parallel way to explain something or describe a concept to the Vikings. I'm sure lots of moms are in the same boat. However, with my husband working in a nuclear plant, there is a LOT of technical jargon that gets thrown around the dinner table and the kids are simply trying to keep up with what Daddy does all day (or all night).

Yesterday, DaHubby started an outage. These happen about every 18 months when general maintenance and refueling occur for one of the reactors. Since DaHubby is at a dual reactor facility, it happens twice in 2014. Months of planning go into these and, when the actual dates arrive, most of the plant employees spend 12 hours/day for 6 days/week working for anywhere from 3-6 weeks assuming all goes according to plan.

When outages occur, it quickly becomes "single parent" time for me. For obvious reasons, DaHubby isn't exactly available to us on a day-to-day basis or feeling like doing much at all but sleep on his single day off per week. It throws a pretty big curveball into our family life and the kids get curious.

"Mom, only one tower has steam today. Why?"

"Mom, what's Daddy doing at work tonight?"

"What's an outage again, Mom?"

So, this morning after DaHubby's first midnight shift, they were full of conversation. I did my best to explain what's going on in a way they can understand - even if it's not exactly and precisely scientifically accurate. LOL

Less steam? That's because they have to shut down the reactor to work on it. If not, it would be like trying to work on an oven that's still hot.

Yes, they shut it off around midnight but it still has leftover heat and steam they're trying to get rid of.

Refueling? Well, it's like replacing the batteries. Or better yet - ya know how vinegar and baking soda react? And, that eventually the reaction slows down? It's like they're adding more ingredients so the reaction goes on.

Now, DaHubby would argue that not *exactly* how it works but I'm often feeling proud of myself for coming up with something that's more clever than "go ask your father." LOL

With homeschooling, this metaphor-seeking behavior occurs often as we come across new information and try to understand it and "hang it" on some prior knowledge. And, this nuke stuff is harder than most anything they're coming up against. So, of the few things I'm proud of about myself, this is one of them.

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