The other day my kids and I were out in the backyard like so many other afternoons. They were playing on their playset and I was sitting on the back deck rocking in my rocking chair and enjoying the breeze from my NewAir Misting Fan. When suddenly the kids come running and screaming up to me yelling as if the world were coming to an end.
One of them had apparently felt a raindrop and mass hysteria ensued. After giving them my best nice-try-but-we’re-not-going-into-the-house-and-watching-TV look, I told them to go back out and play. After a small protest they returned to the swings. A few minutes passed and far in the distance you could hear the faint low rumble of thunder.
“Hey, Hey daddy, did you hear that?” my son Greyson asked.
I could tell he was gearing up to make the argument that the thunder was reason to let him come in and play Mario Kart Wii.
“Yes, I heard the thunder that was far off in the distance. You don’t have to worry about that, you just keep swinging.” I said in an attempt to stop him before he started.
“First comes thunder then comes the lightning.” He wasn’t going to let this die.
“Actually, thunder is the sound that lightning makes. They happen at exactly the same time, but we often see the lightning first because light travels faster than sound.” I decided to turn this in a bid for dad of the year by giving him a physics and meteorology lesson.
“Oh.” He said. He seemed to be content with my answer and just continued to swing in silence.
But his little mind wasn’t just sitting idle, he had been deeply contemplating what I had told him about thunder and lighting and he blurted out with the following deep philosophical question:
“Hey dad, what if you get hit, zapped and die from lighting, right before you were going to get married?”
“What???” I tried to respond. “You…well…um…I…ugh….” I didn’t even know how to respond. Finally after a moment of stuttering I responded with “Well that would be a big bummer.”
As he swung back and forth he yelled out to me. “Yeah that would be a bummer!”
And with that our thunder and lighting conversation came to an end.
So here I tried to teach him about thunder, lightning and the speeds of sound and light, but I’m pretty sure the only thing he’ll remember is it’s a bummer if you die from a lightning strike right before you’re about to get married. I can only hope my other 3 kids who were listening in silence picked up on something useful.
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