Feed on

The Hypothetical

Simon loves a hypothetical question. The problem is, he doesn’t always realize that a given question is hypothetical, and won’t take my explaining as much for an answer.

I offer you a typical exchange:

“Mama, how hot is it on the sun?”

“I don’t know exactly, but crazy hot. Hot enough to heat our planet.”

“Um, I think it’s around 5,000 degrees.”

“That might be right, Simon.”

“Yeah, that’s the right answer. What if the Earth got that hot?”

“Oh, honey. It can’t. The hottest it’s ever been on earth was around 140.”

“Where was that?”

“Somewhere in Iran. But even the places that are always hot–like Saudi Arabia, and Libya? They usually just get to 120 or maybe even 130.”

“What if it got to 5,000 degrees on earth?”

“It can’t, honey. We’re too far from the sun.”

“But what if it did?”

I’m sure I could come up with many other examples as well. Almost any conversation about anything that can be proved or disproved—conversations ranging from gravity and human anatomy to the existence of mummies (scary, bad mummies, not museum specimens) and the nature of time will eventually reach the point when I say, “But X can’t happen” or “But X is impossible” and Simon replies with “But what if it did?”

Off the top of my head, I’m pretty sure we’ve argued over whether time can go backwards, whether you can add or multiply infinity to another number, whether a human could outrun a cheetah, and whether a person can grow to be nine feet tall. It’s entertaining some times and exhausting others. I know some parents would cut these exchanges short, but I don’t have the heart for that. Simon is a fact collector, as is witnessed by his new obsession with the TV show Jeopardy. For that matter, I’m a fact collector, too, as is Matt and my brother Steve. So he gets it honest.

Plus, if this habit keeps up, I can add another career possibility to the (joke) list I’m making up for him, which currently includes professional soccer player (his idea) and sports statistician (mine). This could totally feed into his becoming a writer of science fiction or alternate historical fiction!



One Response to “The Hypothetical”

  1. goldsteinrita says:

    It’s probably my fault that he asks about time going backward. After all I told him that on this birthday I was going to start going the other way.

Leave a Reply

You must be logged in to post a comment.