Son, let me tell you about Sir Isaac Newton's apple

11/16/2008 12:00 AM

11/12/2008 8:00 PM

Sometimes I think the punishment should fit the crime.

Actually, I never thought about it until now, but today I think the punishment is going to fit the crime. Because, on a whim, my husky 6-year-old reaches up to do a chin-up on a towel bar mounted on the bathroom wall.

His harsh grip alone is enough to pull it free, but the weight of his full 61 pounds brings paint and drywall with it. It's a stunning thing to watch. Right up there with using an egg carton as a step stool, and a roll of toilet paper as a doorstop.

Surprised and panicked, he tries to stick it back up on the wall as plaster crumbles from the holes beneath it. “Hold it RIGHT THERE,” I demand.

I go call for my husband, who's toasting up a bagel. And then return to the bathroom to give him his sentence. “Daddy will be here in five minutes. And that's how long you're gonna hold that towel bar. You brought it down, you're gonna hold it up.”

So there we are. Me, sitting on the edge of the tub. My son pressed into the wall. His legs apart, his arms high and wide, holding the bar of chrome.

Suddenly, he's the perp and I'm the interrogator: “Did you really think the towel bar would hold you?”

“Yes, ma'am.”

“Do you think the chandelier in the dining room will hold Mommy?”

“No, ma'am.”

“Why not?”

“ Because you're too heavy. And besides I thought the towel bar was stapled to the wall.” Right. The quarter-inch piece of metal that can barely hold 10 sheets of paper together is going to hold a metal bar with two towels and a kindergartner on it. He's a genius.

I could use my remaining four minutes to review Sir Isaac Newton's Universal Law of Gravitation. But this is a time for basic weight and mass. I pepper him with questions and scenarios.

Which is heavier, Daddy's car or Mommy's high heel? What if it's a PAIR of high heels? Which is more sturdy, a house of bricks or a house of cards? What if they're NFL football cards and every player weighs over 200 pounds?

My time's almost up and his arms are shaking a little. I ask him if he wants to try that chin-up on one of the wire hangars in my closet and he laughs. Good. He gets it. Dad walks in and orders his release, and I leave feeling confident that I actually taught him something useful. But then he lassos a table lamp with a jump rope.

Hopefully Newton and his little apple story will have more impact.

About Tracy Curtis

Tracy Curtis


Tracy Lee Curtis is a humorist, writer and speaker. She writes family humor for the Charlotte Observer. Email Tracy at

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