Sunshine And Magnifying Glasses

Let’s talk about experimentation and discovery — and the potential abuse of powerful tools. Even this old experienced parent almost got it wrong today.

Today was the first really sunny and really warm day here in our area, and it just so happened that we visited some friends for dinner. They also have a five year old boy, like we do, and we had a lot of fun.

We spent a lot of time on their terrace since it was so warm and the sun was so inviting. My son happened to take along a “toy” magnifying glass (I say “toy” because it’s made by a toy company and meets safety standards but is definitely a real magnifying glass), so we grabbed a piece of paper and I taught him how to focus the sun’s rays so that it would burn the paper. Thankfully it burned but didn’t ignite…

Yes, his daddy almost burned a house down once when he was about five years old, but his daddy was playing with matches… we’ll leave the rest of that story for some other day!

Anyway, we were taking a walk a bit later and the two boys started doing what five year old boys do — running, yelling, pushing each other around a bit, etc. At one point my son ran up to me, magnifying glass in hand, focused it on me, and said, “I’m going to burn you up!”


Thankfully we can talk and he listens very well (much better than I do sometimes) and I explained to him that the magnifying glass was NEVER to be used to hurt somebody and that he shouldn’t even try to burn paper unless mommy or daddy said he could. He understood right away and there were no further problems.

I want to say something about the great responsibility that comes with great power, but I’m not sure if I’d be talking about the sun’s rays or the duties of a parent who forgot to talk about the potential consequences of setting stuff on fire. I most certainly don’t want him to learn the way I did!


Leave a Reply