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Saturday, August 15, 2009

The Kind of Conversation We Have

We are on vacation in France. It has been a long, fun, challenging day. We are in mid-getting-ready-for-bed ritual when:

Noah: Where is my toothbrush?

Me: Your electric toothbrush? It's at home. Here, Mommy bought these toothbrushes for you and Aviva for the trip. This one is yours.

Noah: That's not my toothbrush.

Me: Well, it is now.

Noah: (wailing) No! That is not the way it works! This is not the right toothbrush! I can't brush my teeth without the right toothbrush!

Me: Oh come on! Just use this one!

Noah: (in anguish) Noooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooo!

Me: I take it you don't want to use that toothbrush.

Noah: Yes! I want my toothbrush! Get my toothbrush!

Me: Your toothbrush is in Basel.

Noah: Aggggggggggggghhhhhhhhhhhhh!

Me: How I wish that I could gather you up in my arms and we could fly you there through the night wind, over the storks sleeping on the chimneys, to fetch your toothbrush!

Noah: Yeah!

Me: But I do not have this power.

Noah: Arrrrrrrrrrrrgggggggggghhhhhhhhhhhhhh! No no no no no!

Me: I suppose you could just skip brushing your teeth tonight.

Noah: But then I will get cavities and my teeth will get rotten and fall out!

Me: This is true. Well, not after one time of skipping brushing your teeth. Only if it becomes a habit.

Noah: Nooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooo! No! Get me my toothbrush or I'll kill you!

Me: Noah, you know that I don't like threats like that.

Noah: Okay, get me my toothbrush or I will throw you into a tank of sharks, blithely unaware that all shark tanks have enormous drains!

Me: I cannot.

Noah: Agghhh! (collapses into sobs)

Me: (with Noah in my lap) Well, I see that there is no solution.

Noah: Agggh!

Me: It is completely, logically impossible. Nothing can happen from now on.

Noah: What?

Me: Well, let's look at this logically. There are only three possibilities. One is that we go to Basel, tonight, and get your toothbrush. Can we do that?

Noah: No!

Me: Another would be not brushing your teeth. But that, as you note, would make them fall out, so you are unwilling to do that.

Noah: Right!

Me: And the third, purely theoretical, logical possibility would be brushing your teeth with a toothbrush which is not your toothbrush, such as this toothbrush right here. But that, too, is impossible.

Noah: No it isn't!

Me: Oh yes it is. We established that earlier.

Noah: It's possible.

Me: I don't think so.

Noah: It is!

Me: Hmm. Well, since we disagree on this point, I guess the only way to find out is empirically.

Noah: What does 'empirically' mean?

Me: It means doing an experiment.

Noah: Oh, OK.

Me: So, we need to design an experimental protocol to test your hypothesis. Your hypothesis is that "Noah could brush his teeth with a different toothbrush." How do you propose to test this?

Noah: I could brush my teeth with this toothbrush!

Me: I am extremely skeptical. But, if you insist.

Noah: (brushes teeth)

Me: My God! I never believed it possible! But science triumphs once again!

Posted by benrosen at August 15, 2009 10:49 AM | Up to blog

I, too, love my impossible son.


Posted by: Matt at August 15, 2009 01:23 PM

That is amazing and wonderful. :)

Posted by: Em Tersoff at August 15, 2009 02:54 PM

I love you and I love this story. Your Bugs Bunny logic is impeccable.

Posted by: Karen at August 15, 2009 03:42 PM


Posted by: Lise A at August 15, 2009 04:01 PM

That is brilliant.

Posted by: Mary Robinette Kowal at August 15, 2009 07:19 PM

That is indeed brilliant. =)

You're raising a future scientist...

Posted by: Jenny Rae Rappaport at August 15, 2009 11:38 PM

karen i no why you'r saying bugs

Posted by: Noah Rosenbaum at August 16, 2009 07:33 AM

Noah -- it reminded me of the arguments Bugs Bunny has with Daffy Duck and Elmer Fudd! I think your daddy is very clever, don't you?

Posted by: Karen at August 16, 2009 09:41 AM

(For the record, Karen, Noah was agreeing with you -- he laughed when he read your comment and said "I know why she's saying Bugs Bunny!")

Posted by: Benjamin Rosenbaum at September 2, 2009 06:11 AM
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