Why you should be cautious of Internet advice

As tempting as it is to rely on Dr Google, taking advice from strangers on the Internet can be dangerous (or in this case, messy). It’s part of the reason I don’t give advice on the blog – I don’t know your individual situation. I can’t possibly know all the variables of a problem. I make assumptions, and they could be wrong.

Today we decided (in hindsight, obviously) to demonstrate this concept with the use of cornflour, water and food colouring.

The Internet lady said: “It’s fun!”

Half term is shaping up to be a wash out. Even Girlbug, aged three, has been forced to look on the bright side – “at least the flowers will be happy”.

So, I’ve ventured once again into the world of Pinterest Parenting. The nice lady on the Internet said it would be fun, that gloop (cornflour, water, food colouring) doesn’t even make that much mess, that it keeps kids occupied for hours, that it’s an inexpensive activity to enjoy, that it’s suitable from early toddlerhood onwards.

Great I thought, we’ll do that then. But she hadn’t explicitly listed her assumptions. The main assumption it would seem was that my kids, or all kids, are like her kids. I haven’t met her kids. I’m sure they’re great, and really the fault is mine. I should have anticipated that this wasn’t going to be picture perfect!

Internet lady couldn’t have possibly realised that her advice wasn’t applicable where Girlbug and Boybug are involved:

  • She didn’t know that Boybug likes transferring things between containers. Just as we finished making the gloop, Boybug used his wooden spoon to transfer it back into the box of flour. Binning a whole box of flour increases the price of the gloop considerably!
  • She didn’t know that while Boybug enjoys water and flour separately, he is inexplicably petrified of them when combined. She couldn’t have foreseen his screams of disgust. Even I wasn’t expecting that one.
  • She couldn’t have been aware that only some of our chairs are leather, and that in the process of fleeing in terror, Boybug would leave a trail of green gloop over the fabric ones.
  • She had no idea that Boybug is obsessed with my cupboards, and that while I supervised Girlbug’s gloop-play, Boybug would try to consume all the redcurrant jelly   (Best Before who knows when, no idea how he opened the lid – maybe it really is a gender thing?).
  • She couldn’t have known that once in that cupboard, both kids would demand a snack break. So, I wiped down the surfaces, doled out the raisin rations and made a cuppa. Obviously Girlbug then went back to the gloop. Deep joy! Double cleaning up!
  • She didn’t consider the enthusiasm Girlbug has for mess. Gloop was thrown about with wild abandon. She tried to eat it, then had a 5 minute panic attack when she got so much up her nose she couldn’t breathe properly.
  • She didn’t mention that parent participation would involve a facial. My skin still feels taught from from the flour. Maybe her kids didn’t do that bit.
  • She failed to consider if only one child likes the gloop, the other is free to trash the joint. While chasing Boybug around as he flung apricots across the house, Girlbug tried to write her name in Gloop on the floor.

And that, people, is why I don’t generally take advice off the Internet. We’re all different. Sure, it can be useful to get other people’s thoughts on a situation, but in future I will be very careful to work out what their assumptions are, and whether the scenario would work given my unique situation!

Right. Back to Gloop clean up!


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