"Look at the time." I said, pointing to the digital clock on the microwave. My nine year old daughter gave me a puzzled look. "It is now 6:51 AM." I announced. "OK, continue." I said. She slowly turned her attention back to what she was doing, but looked at me quizzically from the corner of her eye. Finally she shook her head and turned back to the matter at hand.
She sat in a chair, pushed into the corner of the kitchen. Her little hands held a small cup of medicine with two ruby, teaspoons of Robitussin. She squinted her eyes shut and huffed out three big breaths. She inhaled and brought the cup up to her mouth, holding her breath. Before it touched her lips though, her eyes snapped open and she recoiled from the tiny cup, as if suddenly realizing the Robitussin might have become poison in that last, split second. She huffed three more times, repeating the entire scene over again before wailing, "I can't do it!!!"
I stood watching the spectacle silently, with my arms folded. She pondered the red, shimmering liquid for a few more seconds before declaring, "I have to go to the bathroom!" Upon returning she picked up the cup, huffed and gulped a few more times before finally downing the entire thing, through a scowl.
"Arggh! Blech! Yuck! "
"Ok, it is now 6:55 AM." I declared. "That took you four minutes. Four. Minutes!" I drew the last two words out dramatically. "You put yourself through four minutes of agony for something that only took two seconds to actually drink. That's two hundred forty seconds! Two hundred forty seconds of your life, for something that should have only required two! You can't get them back now, they're gone forever. They're out there in the ether somewhere now, wave goodbye to them." I waved. Dramatically. "You effectively, made yourself miserable for that long! The ironic thing is, you did it to yourself. You tortured yourself for four whole minutes for something that only takes two seconds. That's one hundred twenty times longer than necessary. You traded a two second reality for an imagined four minutes of suffering. You could have just taken the medicine and two seconds later, it would have been over. Done. Finished."
Taylor sat, quietly regarding her lap. She looked over my shoulder at the microwave and said. "Look at the time Papa. It's now 6:59 AM. You talked for four minutes." My mind reeled. I quickly recovered, stammering, "Well… I just wanted you to understand." "Yes." She said quietly, "But your lectures are long." Taking her bowl of Strawberries-n-Cream Oatmeal, from the counter, she casually spooned it into her mouth on her way into the dining room.
By a nine year old.
When I arrived at work I told my friends, Sean and Kevin, what happened. "Man!" Kevin laughed, "She straight Jiu-Jitsued your ass! Took your whole lecture and used it against you!" "I know." I said, "She surprised me with that. Truth is though, I have to admit, I was kinda proud of her. The problem is, she's already outsmarting me and she's only nine!" I sighed, "It's going to be a long nine more years."
"Nine years?" Sean chuckled, "It's going to be a long rest-of-your-life!"