My Nephew Discovered Physics. A.K.A. The Way The World Works
Having children provides you with at least one guarantee; you get to witness and/or re-live moments from your own childhood from a new perspective. They may be general moments that perhaps every human who ever lived did at one point or another (like the first time you ever ate a boogy), but you think about it somewhat differently when it’s your child that’s doing it (“stop that!”). One of the actions that stand out the most is how children investigate things to figure out how they work. Pick it up, play with it a little bit, taste it, smell it. Discovery of new things in the universe is a magical thing to behold, and I have been lucky enough to be beholden to such events, even before our daughter was born.
Over the past couple of years I have been blessed with three Nephews. Joseph was the first to come followed by Daniel and most recently, Charlie. Joseph was around 2 going on 3 (I think) when I traveled down to Maryland to help my brother and his family move out of there house and into a new one a little ways down the road. Needless to say, throughout the moving process we were awash with inquiries and the occasional lending a hand from my nephews (then tiny) hands.
To set the scene, I should describe the house that we were moving stuff out of. It was a farmhouse style, although updated and was a little ways back from the main road. Due to this, a long gravel driveway was created leading up to the garage off the side of the house which cut through a decently large sized front yard. It was in this driveway that I had my first true experience of a child’s discovery.
Joseph was running around making the usual merriment when after a while, as kids do, he began to get tired and slowed down a bit. So he plopped down in the driveway, near where the gravel ended and the grass began, and started playing with the stones. Throwing them off to the side, throwing them into the air, throwing them under the truck, stones were going everywhere.
Until one of his throws found the stone land in the nearby grass; that’s when the child became a detective (Batman would be jealous). He stared for a moment, and threw again towards the grass and watched the stone fall. He then stood up and looked, as if standing at the edge of a great height, out into the grass to see where the stone had landed (about 3ft away). The theory for his investigation was taking shape.
He looked down at the gravel beneath his feet, and very sternly made the decision to move forward with his full scale experiment. He reached down and picked up as big of a handful of stones as possible, and threw them all into the grass with full force. He remained still, and examined the work. I can only guess the notes he was taking in his head as he stared out into the, now stone-laden, patch of field. I imagine, if he’s anything like his father, he was taking into consideration the random flight paths of each stone determined by the strength of his throw, the wind speed, and the weight of each stone. The release from his hand as well as the intensity of his throw are really what determine the velocity and therefore is the cause for how spread out the stones now are which makes them increasingly difficult to find.
Therefore: adjustments must be made.
He looked once more to his feet, and picked up another handful of gravel. This time however, he took two or three steps into the grass and slowly bent down and placed the small pile of stones onto the ground. He then began to stare, ever so carefully.
Until A BREAKTHROUGH! AHAAAAAA!
Or at least I think that’s what happened………
Almost feverishly he began moving from the driveway to the grass each time with new handfuls of stones, sometimes throwing them once again and quickly examining their landing zones. What could have possibly happened in that moment of discovery to inspire such excitement? What is the purpose for this phase of the study? Does the increased intensity of stone throwing provide a new angle to the hypothesis? It must. It must represent the solid finding of a key factor in the discovery that some may challenge in the future. So it must be done repeatedly and each throw as vigorous as the last, for consistency.
The experiment finally came to a close as the investigator in question was beckoned by his mother. He would have to retire for now to the house and consider all the events of today. Summarize his findings and include it in his notes for later, a particular juice box holds precedence for now.
And then, standing on the edge of the truck holding a box in my hand, I went back to work. The entire event had taken five minutes, and it was one of the most wonderful things I had seen yet in my life. Nowadays its things that seem even more simple that I observe my daughter discovering. Things like her hands, feet, and sneezing. It was just last night that I witnessed for the first time my little one grab a binky with her hand and shove it directly in her mouth.
I have never been so excited in my life. A lot of individuals who are about to become parents for the first time are probably hearing from multiple sources that “having a child is a huge undertaking” and “sometimes the frustration will be unbearable.” But I disregard these things. There are definitely times of frustration and times when one considers the immensity of the dedication you have to put toward this child, but it all washes away when these little moments happen. The first time they smile, or look at you with those big eyes. The first time they fall asleep on your chest, or the first time they begin trying to speak.
In fact its not just the “firsts” that will wash away your worry and frustration, but each time they do these things. Every time I pop the binky back into her mouth and her hand reaches up and grabs my pinky finger. Every time I go to pick her up from daycare and when I get there she is crying, but as soon as she sees me she begins to smile, and giggle. More things will come, first words and calling me Daddy and so on.
In all this, I make a discovery of my own. That this being is what is truly love. I love my wife, and I have learned that putting up with the difficult times is well worth it for all the amazing moments we share. But this little girl, I need not learn to be patient in frustrating moments. She is a constant source of happiness, wonderment, and love. I will always be grateful for anything I can do for her, even the nasty stuff, because I know I’ll always get something wonderful in return.