Kids are so interesting. If you ever need a fresh perspective on something, just sit down and discuss it with a child. Don’t bring an agenda; just sit and mostly listen. I promise it won’t take long and all of your paradigms will be totally destroyed. They can also cause your brain to explore truly mind boggling topics. I had just such a conversation with my daughters today. The kind of conversation that, even if Stephen Hawking, Albert Einstein, and the writers of Fringe got together, they would still be spinning their mental tires trying to figure it out.
We were driving in the car through a teeny tiny town, when I pointed out a house that The Pastor and I put in an offer on way back when we only had one and a half children. It is a cute little house with a creek running through the back yard and a park across the street. It’s in a cute little neighborhood with other cute little houses that all sort of match each other. They all have nice yards with flower gardens and things like white picket fences. Seriously, I’m pretty sure the neighbor ladies have names like June Cleaver, Donna Reed, and Harriet Nelson. These references are older than I am, so if you don’t get them, it’s okay.
The house had been for sale for quite a while, so The Pastor and I put in a very low offer and it was denied. The end. It was a good thing our offer was denied because the house was just a bit too far away from just about everything. Also those neighbor ladies would have seriously enjoyed watching me throw myself into that creek when I couldn’t take their Stepford-ness anymore.
I pointed out the house to my daughters and told them an abbreviated version of how we almost bought it. Spitting Image (the older daughter) sighed wistfully and dreamed out loud of all the new “normal” friends she could have had “if only you and Daddy would have really committed to that house.” Huggy, the younger and more practical of my daughters, said flatly “I’m glad we don’t live in that house. It would make the drive to swimming lessons even farther.”
I probably should have just agreed here, but I rarely think things all the way through. Instead of agreeing with both girls I pointed out that if we lived in that house, we would probably take swimming lessons somewhere else. I also pointed out that we would probably shop in an entirely different town and have a whole different set of friends. This was met with silence. Then it happened, as it always does. My girls then decided to go all Alice in Wonderland on me.
“What if,” Huggy started “what if every time we make a decision, a new parallel universe starts. Then there are two universes. The one we are living in now, and the one where you made the other choice. So maybe, there is another parallel universe out there where we do live in that house.”
“Think of how many universes that would be!” Chipped in Spitting Image. “Every time you decided to have yogurt instead of cereal for breakfast, bam! New universe.”
“Every time you decided to make a friend, there would be another universe where you were not that person’s friend!” added Huggy.
“Oh!” exclaimed Spitting image. “Every day that I wake up and decide not to be a serial killer, I start a new universe!”
Ummmm, hold up just a second. “Do you actually make a conscious choice not to be a serial killer every day?” I asked, just a wee bit concerned.
“Well, I’m NOT one.” Spitting Image pointed out. “Oh! What about all of the decisions made by all of the people in those parallel universes starting even more parallel universes with all of the decisions they make! How many universes do you think there could be?”
By this point I am a little dizzy. Partly because exponents do that to me and partly because I’m trying to recall if Spitting Image has ever displayed any sociopathic type behaviors (don’t worry, she hasn’t).
“Oh my gosh!” exclaims Huggy. “What about all of the times where you have to choose from more than one thing? Like, all of the combinations of clothes in my closet!”
Spitting Image rolls her eyes. “Clothes aren’t a big enough choice to create parallel universes, everyone knows that.”
Huggy starts to get upset. “Mom! Spitting Image says that clothes aren’t important enough to create parallel universes! Clothes are important! We would freeze without clothes…Ohhhhhhhhh! A Frozen universe!”
Wait, how did this suddenly become become a real thing with rules and stuff? And, more importantly, exactly how much access does Spitting Image have to sharp or even blunt objects? “Spitting Image, your sister is right. Clothes are important. Also, how often do you think about becoming a serial killer?”
Again with the eye roll. “Moooooooommmmmm, why are you so worried about killing? How many parallel universes could there possibly be where I’m a serial killer?”
I’ll tell you how many, because that math doesn’t even involve exponents. There are exactly zero universes where she is a serial killer because I know exactly which decision I would make if she ever was a serial killer! Every. Single. Time.