How Children Defy Physics*

(*Assuming you take creative liberties with definitions, and completely ignore basic scientific and sociological knowledge)

Stand on top of a hill with a big, heavy rock at your feet. Your task is to get the rock to the bottom of the hill. Nudge the rock with your foot. It doesn’t move. Place your foot against it and push. Nothing. Lean down, heave as hard as you can. The rock moves. Then it gains momentum, in a few moments, it is rolling down the hill on its own. You’ve done it.

That’s how science works. There are laws of physics which explain why that happens, which I cannot lay out for you because I was kicked out of physics. And chemistry. And took earth science twice…..er….anyway.

With children, the harder you push, the further backwards YOU end up, with that metaphorical rock sunk a little deeper into the ground and your hopes of getting it down the hill any time before the next planetary alignment are about as realistic as finding a unicorn surfing upon the back of the Loch Ness monster while on a fishing trip to a trout stream.

You just cannot push kids to do anything. Case in point-

Breakfast time in our house is usually a simple affair. Waffles bedecked with either nutella or the classic syrup are a favorite. Occasionally some corn muffins (when I don’t screw them up) or english muffins, fruit….whatever. The Narrator generally devours breakfast happily then pounces off to start his day of Hot Wheels races, failed block towers, (another physics lesson for another time) cartoons, and bickering with his brother. The usual kid’s stuff.
However, the VERY second you start up breakfast with something else on the schedule beyond it and make the mistake of uttering the fatal words “Hurry up, we have to <fill in the blank>” ….he shuts down. The two waffles that took him .83 seconds to devour yesterday will now take him thirty minutes to eat. My legendary patience doesn’t help the matter either. As soon as I get fussy because he’s turned mule, he’ll cry, then the waffles will get eaten just about in time for the fourth grade.
His uncanny ability to sense urgency and resist it baffle his mother and I. This is most expectantly observed on school days. We leave the house at 8 on the nose. We wake him at 7. For the hour in between, he has three simple tasks. Dress. Eat. Brush teeth. As I sit here at 7:42 He has finally finished the waffles, but is nursing his cup of milk the same way someone might nurse a single beer at a party. His mother is crafting, and I’m typing this, the both of us trying hard not to ask him to ‘hurry up please’ – since we would really like his next day of school to come sometime before we have to rent a cap and gown.

Push a rock, it’ll go where you want it to go. That’s physics. Push a child, (Not physically. Don’t do that.) and you’ll end up nowhere near accomplishing what you need to do. That’s parenting.

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