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YO MAMA: My mad scientist toddler

Image Credit: PEXELS/Tatiana Syrikova

A Toddler’s Investigation of a Puddle Using the Scientific Method


My one-year-old son toddles over to a puddle and stamps his foot into it. He pulls the foot out slowly, inspecting the soggy hem of his pants. His entire shoe is soaked and he extends it out for me to see, kind of like a ballerina pointing a toe. His blue eyes are wide with astonishment.

“You’re all wet,” I say.

He gives me a stern look that says “let’s not be too hasty, mum. This will require further investigation.”

I can tell we aren’t going anywhere for a while.


He gets down on all fours and eyes up the puddle from a low crouch. It’s raining lightly and the puddle is covered in little dimples. From a downward dog position, he backs up and inserts the other foot into the puddle.

“Now they’re both wet,” I say.

He remains unconvinced and dismisses me with an exasperated “humph.”

He picks at the wet pant leg and points from it to the puddle and back again.

“Now you’re getting it,” I say.

He resumes his position on all fours and proceeds to lap up water like a dog.

“Then again, maybe not,” I say.


He probes the puddle with the very tip of his finger, collecting a single drop of water which he inspects closely with his eyes, and his mouth. He rubs the droplet between his fingers, contemplating the smooth wetness. I can practically see the sequence forming in his mind: stuff goes in dry, comes out wet.

If it’s true, it’s a positively groundbreaking discovery.

Test with Experiment

He rips off his dinosaur patterned bucket hat and tosses it into the puddle. He observes it for a millisecond before sprinting off to collect a handful of rocks which also go in the water. He marches around like a crazed and wobbly Albert Einstein, plucking objects off the ground and throwing them in. When he is finally finished, he stands back and admires his handiwork. A twig, five leaves, a dead bug, some grass clippings and his socks float around in what looks like a troll’s soup.

Analyze data

He fetches a larger stick and uses it to poke around in the water. He pulls the hat out first. After analyzing its changed weight, texture and appearance he tosses it aside and extracts the next specimen. Everything is given a thorough visual examination followed by a taste-test.

Report conclusions

He jolts out of his scientific trance and suddenly, I exist again.

“Da-da-da!” he says, gesturing madly at the puddle.

He reaches up for my hand and drops into a squat, pulling me down with him.

“That’s a really nice puddle,” I say, drumming my fingers on the surface. “I wonder what else we could put in it?”

But a scientist is only as good as his latest invention. The puddle is already ancient history. He pulls himself up on my pant leg and toddles off towards a rotten log, about to make his next discovery.

— Charlotte Helston gave birth to her first child, a rambunctious little boy, in the spring of 2021. Yo Mama is her weekly reflection on the wild, exhilarating, beautiful, messy, awe-inspiring journey of parenthood.


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