Child’s Simple Question Results In Lively 4-Hour-Long Explanation From Dad

YOUNGSTOWN, OH—”Dad, how does a car go?” asked 6-year-old Olivia Parton as the family sat down at the dinner table Monday evening.

“Oh no,” said Heather, her mom. “Buckle up. This is gonna be a long one.”

Sure enough, the question resulted in a 4-hour-long, excited explanation from her father, Frank Parton. “You know, I’m glad you asked, honey. It’s actually really interesting. OK, so first, we need to go over some basic concepts of physics—have you taken physics yet? What grade are you in again? Oh yeah, right, I guess not—well, OK. Let’s start with Newton’s laws of motion.”

The child started to regret asking the question a few hours later, as Parton pulled out a yellow legal pad and pen and began drawing a “very basic” diagram of a combustion engine, transmission, driveshaft, and differential. “Of course, this is very rudimentary and is only for rear-wheel-drive vehicles. We haven’t even begun discussing front-wheel drive or electric cars. What’s your bedtime again? Oh, good, we’ve got a couple of hours yet.”

It was unclear how the conversation went in this direction, but at publishing time, Parton had gotten about halfway through an explanation of the plot of The Silmarillion before Olivia had to go to bed, though he promised to continue his explanation the next day.

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