The exhausted dad: An ocean full of fun facts
The exhausted dad
| March 15, 2023 1:00 AM
I don’t know if I should trust the onslaught of factoids that come out of my kindergartner’s mouth.
As a young learner, my 5-year-old son loves discovering new things, and he enjoys sharing his knowledge with anyone who will listen.
Most of it sounds correct. When he says there are “18 species of penguins,” that just seems right. Right?
Much of what he tells me has been regurgitated from the fun facts shared by his older brother, 9, who reads all about animals and various strange occurrences in those “Weird-But-True” books. At least then, if my kindergartner says something strange about, say, stingrays, I know where I can go to confirm the information.
My 5-year-old: “Did you know one of the smallest animals in the world is a water bear?”
Me: “What?! No. Bears are big!”
My 9-year-old: “That’s another name for tardigrades. They’re micro animals that look like tiny bugs.”
At that point, I feel pretty good about the information, and if I want to know for sure, I can check to see if tardigrades have ever been the subject of a “Wild Kratts” episode. (They have).
Some of these fun facts make me feel dumb. For instance, my 5-year-old recently probed me about the early days of planet Earth.
Him: “Do you know where all of the oceans came from?”
He’s not really asking me for an answer. He already has his answer, and he’s testing ME to see if I know as much as he does.
I try my best anyway, against my better judgment and in the face of the extremely likely scenario that I have this fact completely wrong.
Me: “Uh, didn’t Earth always have water and the land came later?”
Him: “NO. It was LITERALLY all land. Then it rained and rained and rained and we got OCEANS!”
Maybe I’m watching too much “Poker Face,” but in that moment I wanted to call bull-dash-dash-dash-dash.
But before acting out of ignorance (and a bruised ego), I asked myself where he might have gotten this information. His kindergarten teacher wouldn’t steer him wrong, so the info would be solid if it came from school. Still, I don’t think oceans are the month’s science topic. “Wild Kratts?” I trust those PBS animal experts, but this fact didn’t seem to be in their wheelhouse.
So that leaves his brother’s “Weird-But-True” books, some random kids “fun fact” show on Netflix (there are a few), or some nonsense from “Ninjago, “Paw Patrol,” “Minecraft” or various incarnations of “Spider-Man.”
I may be the only one who does this, but do you ever feel too embarrassed to ask Google something? I don’t like my smartphone to see how dumb I am. The last thing I need is a series of targeted advertisements asking me if I need tutoring for elementary age children.
Things I’m embarrassed about Googling:
• How many ounces in a gallon?
• Which one of these spoons is the tablespoon?
• How many days can I eat this bread after the expiration date?
Nevertheless, this ocean thing seemed like a fascinating fun fact, and I wanted to know for sure before I shared it with other grown adults.
Turns out it’s generally true.
The most succinct description I found comes courtesy of America’s National Ocean Service, or the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. It states that most scientists agree that oceans on Earth formed from the escape of water vapor and other gases into the atmosphere from the molten rocks of Earth. After the surface of the planet cooled below the boiling point of water, rain began to fall… for centuries. The accumulated water drained into the hollows of the planet’s surface, and boom: Ocean.
Note: If there are any “Flat Earthers” reading this article out there, please don’t contact me. Agree to disagree, OK?
So my 5-year-old was right, and I learned something cool from him. Sure, I feel a little dumb, but that’s fine. We want our children to be smarter and more successful than us, right? Really. I’m not embarrassed. I feel good about it. No negative thoughts. Honest.
As a coda to this article, I want to share what my son told me immediately after he told me about the rain and the formation of oceans.
Him: “It rained for LITERALLY hundreds of years! If I were there I’d be like, ‘SPLAT, SQUISH, AHHH, ALL MY CLOTHES ARE SOAKING WET, WHERE AM I GOING TO CHANGE?! THERE ARE NO BOATS ANYWHERE!’
All valid thoughts, I say.
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Tyler Wilson is a freelance writer, full-time student and parent to four kids, ages 5-11. He is tired. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.