Tuesday, March 18, 2008

Bedtime Ramblings

"Mom, I have a question," he said.

Of course he did. It was late, I was tired, and he wanted to delay bedtime yet again.

"Does infinity meets negative infinity somewhere?"

"What?" (I should never have taken those heavy-duty vitamins while I was pregnant with him.)

"Negative and positive numbers meet at zero, of course. I imagine they meet somewhere else, too."

Key word, imagine. My head was starting to hurt.

"You know," he continued, "At some point the numbers have to meet. Maybe on the other side of the universe. Maybe not in a direct line. Maybe in a huge circle around the universe."

"You mean, like, near heaven?" I yawned.

"I guess," replied my young mad scientist, giving me a verbal eyeroll. "Maybe it's more of a spiral than a circle. Or a double helix, like DNA."

"Did you brush your teeth?" I asked.

"Oops," he smiled. "I forgot."

"You're thinking about negative infinity in outer space, but you can't remember to brush your teeth?"

"Mom," he asked, "On my world map, it has Kashmir. But on my globe, it's not there. What happened to it?"

Classic move – you’re beaten, so you change the subject. The kid was learning.

"Well, where did you see it last? Maybe if you cleaned your room once in a while you could find it.” Zing.

"No, Kashmir, the country. It's on the map, but not the globe. Why?"

"Maybe your brother has it. Did you brush your teeth?" Right back atcha, son.

I don't remember trying the same tactics with my parents. I don't even remember them tucking me into bed. Many times I grabbed a blanket and fell asleep in the pasture with the cows and horses. It was pretty comfortable except that one of the steers, Wilbur, liked to hog all the covers. Yes, that's weird, but the animals didn't snore anywhere near as loudly as my dad, who could rattle windows all the way down the hall. On the other hand, my little sister got tucked in until she was at least thirty. That proved especially difficult once she got married, but my parents persevered.

One thing I do remember vividly is my dad's version of a wakeup call. If any of us dared sleep in past 7 am, even on the weekend, he'd sic the pack on us. We'd hear a whispered 'git 'im' from downstairs, a loud commotion on the stairs, and all four dogs would burst into the room, leaping onto the bed and digging the sleepyhead out of the blankets. If you were smart, by the time you heard the galloping in the hallway, you were moving your keester out of bed. To this day, if I hear galloping, I dive for cover. Come to think of it, that probably saved me a few times during my nights outside in the pasture.



"I brushed my teeth."

"Ok, great.....we'll find Kashmir in the morning."

"Ok, thanks, Mom.....Mom?"

"Yes, honey?"

"What about infinity and negative infinity?"

"Ask your father."


Shania said...

FIRST! I don't know why that's important, but I see you guys do it over at Dave Barry's blog. I've heard a lot of bedtime delay tactics over the years, but negative infinity hasn't been one of them.

Mad Scientist said...

Annie-you can always tell him he should ask his teacher or that looking for the end of negative infinity sounds like a job he can have someday.

Good luck with him!

insomniac said...

The infinite! No other question has ever moved so profoundly the spirit of man.
David Hilbert

sleep well, little padawan...

annie said...

Thanks, mad scientist. He started in on infinity when he was about 4 and hasn't stopped. Insom's quote is right. Maybe he'll figure it out. Just not at bedtime. :)
Shania - we do the 'first' thing just to beat the others to a new post. You're supposed to be 'first' with a funny thing to say after reading the story. All in silly fun.

Doc Rick said...

The only math I ever concerned myself with as a child was how you figure out your batting average. My step-daughter will ask me random questions like that I can only tell her to call her Uncle Steve. I'm just ready for opening day. ;)