Parenting: proof that Isaac Newton knew nothing about physics

Posted on November 3, 2012


parental physics

It’s been a while since my last physics class but I remember learning about this guy named Isaac Newton. An apple once hit him on the head and he suddenly realized that if you let go of something, it will fall. It was a big deal because, before that, I guess nobody had noticed. Smart guy.

After the Big Apple Event, Newton got to thinking about physics and came up with some rules about how it all works. People thought they were pretty great and decided to call them Newton’s Laws of Motion.

People that make up laws on their own without talking to anybody about it first are usually called evil dictators, but Newton was knighted.  Weird.

Well, Newton was wrong.

I don’t know whether he had kids, but I’m guessing he didn’t. If he had, he would have known that there were some serious flaws in his so called “laws”. I think Newton’s problem was that he rushed it. One apple hits his noggin and he thinks he’s got it all figured out.

I, on the other hand, have 11 years of direct experience watching Newton’s laws proven wrong and it’s time I spoke up about it. What follows are Newton’s laws and my proof that they’re a bunch of hooey.

Newton’s First Law of Motion: Objects at rest will remain at rest unless acted upon by an unbalanced force. An object in motion will remain in motion and keep going the same speed and direction, unless acted upon by an unbalanced force.

“Unbalanced force” is a physicist’s term for “little brother” or “angry parent.”

He almost got this right. Anyone with a teenager knows that there is some validity to the claim that objects at rest will stay that way, especially on weekend mornings. And anyone with a young child will have witnessed perpetual motion, especially if sugar is involved. But that’s as far as the law’s validity goes.

If Newton had kids, he would have known that you could make a resting teenage boy spontaneously launch from the bed just by telling him his girlfriend is on the phone.

You can also stop a child from running without touching them. It can be explained this way:

 Rootstock’s First Law of Motion: A child that is high on sugar will continue to do laps around the living room until an unbalance force tells them to clean their room, at which time, the child will drop to the floor like a wet noodle and commence whining like a chain saw.

This stuff is complex, so I simplified things for you. If you’re into the technical jargon, you’ll want to know that this action is referred to by parental physicists as “pasta pouting”.

Newton’s Second Law: The bigger and heavier an object is, the more force is needed to move it.

That’s just silly. Parents know very well that some of the smallest things are the hardest to move regardless of the force applied. The effort required to get a child to move their little toys from the floor to their bins is just shy of remarkable.  Similarly, the amount of force required to pry a child’s hands off the doorjamb when they don’t want to go to school is hardly proportional to the size of the kid. This leads us to:

Rootstock’s Second Law of Motion: Regardless of the mass, the more badly a parent wants to see their child move, the less likely it is to happen.

And finally:

Newton’s Third Law of Motion: For every action there is an equal and opposite reaction.

The idea here is that if something pushes against something else, the other thing pushes right back, just as hard. For example, when a bowl of cereal flies through the air and smacks against my head, my skull isn’t the only thing to feel the impact. The poor, unlucky bowl will get a smack of equal strength right back. Kind of makes you feel bad about all those times you whined about the lump on your head without even stopping to check if the bowl was OK.

Well, Newton, when was the last time a child’s reaction was remotely comparable to their parents’ action? Here’s your proof:

Action: You calmly ask your child to take out the trash.

Reaction: Your child explodes in a fit of high-pitched hissiness, screaming something vaguely resembling, “But Daaaaduh, why do I always have to do it? Do I look like some kind of a slave? Jeez! You obviously don’t love me or you wouldn’t treat me so badly! Ugh!”

Opposite? Sure. Equal? Not even close.

This leads us to:

Rootstock’s Third Law of Motion: For every parental action there is an opposite but completely disproportionate, and usually totally un-called-for child’s reaction.

Seriously, Newton, it’s not like physics is parenting or anything; it’s just rocket science.

Next time, just ask if you don’t know.