Regular Life

Regular Life

In three words I can sum up everything I've learned about life: it goes on. – Robert Frost

Lumps of Air

“Okay, you start changing, and I’ll come back to check on you in a minute,” I said.

Hanging around while he changes almost guarantees he will waste time putting on the Benjamin show instead of changing into his pajamas. A carefully orchestrated series of distractions, it simultaneously entertains the boy and frustrates the parent.

“Hey, I could feel you talking in my dresser,” he said.

I noticed that his feet were propped up against the side of his dresser.

“You mean you could feel the vibrations in your feet while I talked?” I said, opening my throat more to make my voice resonate. I’m a sucker for pretty much any audience, so naturally I wanted to enhance his experience.

“It’s like, a lump of air came from your mouth and went into my dresser, and I felt it.”

I blinked. Part of me hit the ceiling.

“Yes, son, that’s right. The sound from my mouth pushes the air into waves and they go into other things and make them vibrate. Very good, Benjamin.”

“Thanks, Dad.”

“Okay, keep going. I’ll come right back.” I said.

I turned and walked away so he would start changing his clothes. My explanation probably wasn’t scientifically accurate, but I figured it would do in the moment. I didn’t have time to set up a wave lab like we did in high school physics.

I walked straight to the refrigerator scratch pad to jot down our conversation.

8 Responses to Lumps of Air

  1. Being an expert in wave mechanics and fluid dynamics, yes air is a fluid, I’d say you related the material brilliantly. Now is the time to have that boy put some lumps of air into something else that vibrates like a sax-a-ma-phone while you write the lyrics to “Lumps of Air”.

    -You start your changin’
    -and I’ll be back real soon
    -I can feel ya’ talkin’
    -through the dresser in my room
    -a lump of air came from your mouth
    -and hit me in my feet
    -“that’s the way it works son”
    -as I fell into my seat

  2. Raising scientifically literate children is so awesome!

    I think one of the best things a parent can say to a child, when asked an earnest question, is, “I don’t know. But let’s find out together.”

    Except in this case you did already know, and now Ben is just a little bit further on the path to a wonderfully informed future.

    Science: it works, bitches!

  3. Well, I’m an expert in hydrodynamics and acoustics. I’d have to say that sound waves and “lumpy air” is a pretty clever analogy that I would not have thought of myself. Well, perhaps if I were explaining to a 6-year old. Look out. Quantum mechanics and relativity come next.

  4. Those were great comments, guys. Josh, with that song you proved that you are not only smart, but talented. We already knew you were, Simon and Pops.

    Seriously, I think I have the smartest readers of any blog. A well-rounded lot, too. Simon is a mathematician and a scribe, Pops does pretty much everything, and Josh is a scientist and a songwriter.

    Of course, those are simplifications, but I had to stop myself.

  5. Moksha’s got mad brainz and skillz, too, but he didn’t comment, so he got no props.

    And Alvis, of course, is just average. ;-)

  6. Time to build the requisite string cell phone Mark! That’ll help explain how sound makes waves that travels through the strings to the paper cups!!!

  7. *feeling bad ’cause I’m no longer included in your readership, but that’s my own fault*

    I can totally identify (or could in times passed) with the turbulence (air reference) of dawdling children getting dressed.
    I love when kids use their little brains and make us see things we know from a different perspective.

  8. I can’t wait til my kids are old enough to start digging into the meaty parts of science. Don’t get me wrong,laying the groundwork with a toddler is fun, too. We’re working on the water cycle right now but the whole evaporation part is a bit mysterious to her. But, now I’m looking forward to the “lumps of air” conversation.


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