Thursday, May 23, 2013

Physics

I didn't want him to bring his little green truck with us inside the aquarium. But it wasn't worth the tears in the parking lot, so I conceded. And besides, I thought, if he loses it, it will be a good lesson for him.

In hindsight, I'm very glad I didn't miss this moment.

After winding through the aquarium for some time, we finally approached the shark tunnel, with considerable fanfare. (It is, after all, the shark tunnel.)

Jacob's eyes were immediately drawn to the moving sidewalk. He hopped on, and then off, then on, then off again, each time being propelled forwarded a few inches. He looked ahead to where the sidewalk was going, and behind him to where his adventure had begun.

Satisfied with his understanding of how it worked, he prepared to put the moving sidewalk to a real test. I could see the excitement in his eyes.

This, I imagined him thinking to himself, this is going to be fun.

He removed the green truck from his pocket and stooped down to rest it on the moving sidewalk. In one motion, he placed his truck on the track and shifted his feet to rest behind it.

Jacob, and the truck, rode about a foot down the tunnel before he picked up the truck and hopped off.

That did not go the way he had planned.

The wheels were turning in his head. He examined the sidewalk again, observing the people moving past him, getting farther and farther away as they traveled down the sidewalk. He looked at his truck, wondering why it had failed to do the same. He hopped on, and then off, then on, then off again.

He was ready to try again.

He stooped down a second time, leaned forward to place his truck on the track, then climbed on behind it. The truck and the boy moved forward, but no distance grew between them. The truck failed to drive off into the distance the way he had hoped. He stood beside the sidewalk once more, looking more carefully this time to see if there was something he was missing.

I'd like to say he figured it out. I'd love to tell you that on his next try he put that little truck down and remembered not to stand right behind it, but to stay put and watch it drive away.

But he's only two years old. And it's a fairly short tunnel. Perhaps if he'd had a little more distance to work with, he would have had time to solve his dilemma.

But instead, he rode down the track behind his little truck like this until the sidewalk ran out, a look of bewilderment on his face the entire time.

Maybe I'll help him out next time.

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