Now, I am sensitive enough to guess the kinds of reactions that a statement like that will elicit. For example...
2) I say scientific and other folks jump to read anti-God into it, assuming I aim to reject or at least sidestep religion and, probably morality too. Nothing could be further from my meaning. Although I cannot speak expertly about religion or God (or... about anything else for that matter, except for possibly the limited-usefulness field of ship-driving... which has prepared me for parenting... not much), I mean to treat the spiritual aspect of my kids upbringing with due devoutness.
3) I say scientific experiment and folks (the ones with the darker, more amusing, varieties of imagination), conjure-up images of children strapped to steel chairs, eyelids taped open before TV screens streaming non-stop Brady Bunch and Lassie. But I... um, don't mean that either. (Tried it... couldn't get the tape to stick to my son's eyelids).
So if I don't mean any of that... then what ever do I mean... my son the scientific experiment!
Well, nothing quite so... lab-coaty. I just use phrase scientific experiment to represent an approach that stands in contrast with... cook-book, or recipe.
One can always draw a food analogy somewhere. Or a boxing analogy.
Over on the one corner you have your recipe-book cooks. They go with the tried but true... They do as was done onto them. Or they as they are told. And things seldom go very wrong.
Then on this corner you have your scientific-experimental cooks. On this corner things sometimes explode. Or they solidify into inedible lumps. But sometimes... greatness.
Both approaches have merits and... whatever the opposite of merits may be (which for some odd reason is not demerits), for cooking.
But what about kids? Are you saying (you ask) kids are like... like burritos? Like calzones? Like... Reuben Sandwiches... Or BLTs?... mmmm....... (apologies, I'm hungry, and sleepy, and I digress).
So I'm back to the beginning and the point of this post (some posts have points). Which is that I offer here nothing remotely like a theory or philosophy of parenting, or any such thing... just a kind of... notion. I think of my children (sometimes) as experiments. And I think that this is OK. They are too big of a cake to entrust to someone-else's methods or to hand-me-down wisdom.
I look at my son... sometimes I feel a-burst with pride and love for the sweetness and cleverness that define him... sometimes I stand aghast at the pettiness and cruelty he is so suddenly and nonchalantly capable of.
In either case I look at him, and sometimes I look at myself, and I find... curiosity. What is really going on in there? What is this mystery... this enormous puzzle. What forces stir the tectonic plates of my son's mind, and heart? How do I turn this incomplete seedling... into a good man? He is my experiment, and I take full responsibility (OK, OK, I meant our experiment, Dear). So help me God.