Parental Time

by Pseud O'Nym

“A Brief History of Time’ is one of the greatest coffee table books ever written. In it, Steven Hawking discussed what exactly time was and what we thought we knew about time being one of them. Turned out that time was in fact many things, and most of us were wrong. I’m guessing that’s what the book said. I didn’t actually buy it. And the vast majority who did buy didn’t read it either, and those who did gave up after a few chapters because it was all too complicated. But that didn’t stop them leaving it displayed in a prominent position on the coffee table to impress their friends, because they were sort of people who read those kind of books –  the kind everyone is talking about

The reason I know time isn’t what we imagine it to be is not because Joe has been listening to podcasts where physicists discuss these things. He does though and has tried to explain things to me. However, like most people time for me is a constant, inasmuch my understanding of is that it consists of specific and never changing distances between measurements. So there are sixty seconds in a minute, sixty minutes in a hour and so on. You know this. I thought I knew this.

 Then I discovered that there exists ‘Parental Time’

“Parental Time’ only applies to the child of an exasperated parent. I’ve seen this phenomena first hand. The parent is trying to chivvy the child to do something. ‘I’ll count to five’, they’ll say. ‘1…2…3…3 and a half…4…I’m warning you no pudding for you if you don’t…4 and a half…5’. I sometimes have been given to wonder if indeed this house inhabits a part of the universe where my understanding of time is positively unhelpful.

It’s a bit like the ‘X Factor’, this Parental time. On the ‘X Factor’ they have this weird way of announcing that someone has won something. ‘And going through to the next round is…(a very long pause) Gary’. Maybe this phenomena only exists in the world of T.V. Could you order a meal like that? “And as a starter I’ll have the…’ No. You’d end up wearing, not eating, the starter.

And it’s contagious. Passed on from mother to daughter. I first became aware of this on Sunday morning when LMS knocked on my bedroom door so I could get up and make her porridge. To coax me out from under my duvet, she told me that she was making tea and that I could remain where I was for 10 minutes. “A fast 10 minutes’ she said, just in case I had any delusions that 10 minutes actually meant 10 minutes in the commonly accepted sense of people’s understanding.