The Preschool Zone

Working with preschoolers involves a lot of time spent bending. When John Cusack got off the elevator on floor seven-and-a-half in Being John Malkovich, his back entered The Preschool Zone. We seem to work in the same building.

Working with preschoolers also involves bending time. While I've never read that Einstein taught preschool, I'm sure that's where he first formulated his theory of general relativity.

Space and time bend and curve in Einstein's theories. Space and time bend and curve when you enter a preschool. Gravitation and acceleration spice up both. The closer the student is to the ground, the slower time goes. It is impossible to accelerate the process of six three-year-olds going potty and washing up for snacktime.

Did you ever jump up and race down the stairs in the dark at the end of Act I at the Dallas Opera's Carmen, risking life and limb in your fancy high heels in a vain attempt to beat the line at the ladies' restroom? And the line was how long when you got there? LONG. VERY LONG.

Did you ever attempt to use the womens' restrooms between innings at the old Texas Rangers Stadium in Arlington? Or maybe at half-time of a sub-freezing Cornhuskers football game when everyone's wearing multiple layers? SLOW PROGRESS. SLOW.

Remember enclosing yourself in the reflective triangle made by tri-fold fitting room mirrors? Imagine the entire Rangers restroom line trapped, bent, refracted, multiplied, and snowflaked inside that triangle of mirrors. That's the experience of washing up for preschool snack! Don't even contemplate glancing at the clock!
  • The ticking rate of a clock depends on the motion of the observer of that clock.

  • Clocks tick more slowly the closer they are to a gravitational mass like the sun.

  • Einstein was thinking of gravity as equivalent to acceleration, as a geometrical phenomenon, as a bending of time and space.

Further decelerating the process is the preschoolers' limited understanding of the flush capacitor. That is almost, but not quite, the same as the flux capacitor Dr. Emmett Brown and Marty McFly used to time travel in the "Back To the Future" movies. When you ask a preschooler, "Did you flush?," you get the same look and speed of reply as when you ask Dick Cheney if he orchestrated blowing Valerie Plame's CIA cover.

In The Preschool Zone each and every weekend is a disruption of the space-time continuum. There's always a disconnect from Friday afternoon to Monday morning. Rose Mary Woods once again erased 18 1/2 minutes of Nixon's White House Watergate tapes. Dubya is back to sounding out the words in his goat picture book.

Small children have to rediscover how to work the soap and paper towel dispensers. The lower you are, the longer it takes!

"May I go to the restroom?," a preschooler asks. "Yes," I say. Dinosaurs have evolved into birds when that student comes back to report a problem.

  • Open the pod bay doors, HAL.
  • I'm sorry Dave, I'm afraid I can't do that.
  • What's the problem?
  • I think you know what the problem is just as well as I do.

She's afraid, she can't do that. What's the problem? One toilet hasn't been flushed. Can she use the other toilet? No, somebody left the seat up on that one. That Einstein! He always forgets to flush!

© 2008 Nancy L. Ruder

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