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