Why Are Clouds White?
I don't pick my nose, for instance.
And unlike J.J., when someone passes me a jumbo bag of popcorn, I don't assume that it's mine to keep for the duration of the movie. I realize that sharing is involved.
But kids have a way of turning the tables on you.
At some point, they ask, "Why is the sky blue?" or "Why is the ocean salty?" or "Why are clouds white?"
And suddenly, you're Scooby Doo.
You stammer, "Rhat? Ri ron't know!"
We were eating dinner last night--just the boys and I because Justin was running errands after work.
Richie had brought his swim lesson "certificate of participation" to the table. He takes it everywhere, swelling with pride whenever he lays eyes on it.
Some people argue that kids shouldn't be rewarded just for showing up. Isn't that half the battle, though? If grownups were punished every once in a while for not showing up--to an appointment, a playdate, a party--they would see this. I know I'm guilty of this.
Anyway, the certificate means a lot to Richie--probably because he had a crush on his teacher.
Between bites of pizza, Johnny, asked, "What are clouds made of?"
"Ruh," I started.
But Richie saved me. He looked up and said, "Water."
"That's right," I said, remembering the diagram they showed us in school. Water evaporates from ponds and oceans into the sky, then comes back down as rain.
Or so the theory goes. A more likely explanation is that angels see how bad everybody is acting on earth, and weep. Then they go bowling. Hence, thunder. Team photos are the lightening.
The scientific answer was devastating to Johnny, however.
"What?! Then why are they white?" he asked. "Water isn't white! I thought clouds were made out of cotton."
Richie looked up from his paper and said, "I can't talk about this anymore. I'm reading my certificate of achievement."
So I was on my own.
"And water would fall down," Johnny continued. "I've never seen a cloud fall."
"Clouds fall when it rains," I said.
"But rain is not white!" Johnny said.
"Well, I guess clouds aren't really water, they're water vapor. And that's white."
"Why is water vapor white?!"
Finally, I went to my go-to response.
"Rhat? Ri ron't know!"
Maybe he should ask Don, a local meteorologist.
Justin watches his weather report every morning before going to work. Not that they stop working in the rain. But if it's going to be raining on his head all day, Justin at least likes to know ahead of time.
After seeing him every morning, the boys talk about Don, who Richie calls "Fox News," like he's a family friend.
We went to Science City and there was a big ad of the two Fox meteorologist in the lunch area.
"Fox News is here!" Richie said.
"Remember when Don dressed up like Superman on the news?" Johnny said.
"That was so funny," Richie said.
"Don is so funny," Johnny agreed.
Frankly, I'm surprised that I don't know why clouds are white. Everytime a storm rolls in, meteorologist break into the show in progress. And that's fine. During tornados and floods, it saves lives. But then they start teaching meteorology class. You know--how storm cells evolve and what not. And I guess that's sort of interesting.
But next, they start training me and other viewers on how the Doppler Radar works.
"You see, the red zone indicates blah blah blah, but the blue zone shouldn't be ignored because blah blah blah."
I'm like, "Um, if something happened to you, couldn't the weekend guy fill in? I'm not going to actually have to operate the equipment, am I?"
Anyway, I realize they have to stay on the air while the storms move through the region, so maybe they could fill the time by answering basic science questions kids ask, such as why are clouds white.
In other words, dumb it down, weather guys, so that us parents can continue to feel smarter than our children.