To pass the time on our recent "over the river and through the woods, to grandmother's house we go" car trip, I thought of a game I called "Burning Questions". Basically, we just took turns asking each other whatever questions we really wanted the answers to. This could be personal: "what kind of animal would you be if you had one day to be an animal?" or general "Is there an end to the universe, or does it just go on and on forever?". As always, it is so fun to have a window inside my children's minds, to see the different ways they think about things.
When I asked Mackenzie if he could go back in history and talk to any one person, who would he visit and what would he talk with them about, he answered that he would go back in time and visit George Washington. The reason? To convince him not to kill a hippopotamus in order to use its ivory for his false teeth. And Asa stumped me with this one: "Why are barns usually painted red?" After talking about it for awhile, we concluded that it might be so that they would stand out visually in a snow blizzard, or perhaps that red was an inexpensive or easily-accessible color of paint for early farmers to use. As it turns out, we were partially right. According to Howstuffworks.com, European barns were traditionally painted with linseed oil, an easily-accessible sealant made from flaxseed oil that was dark golden in color. To this, they might add ferrous oxide, known to inhibit growth of mold and moss.
Our game eventually spiraled off into a discussion of whether or not other alien species would be likely to follow something like Star Trek's prime directive, and leave us alone down here on earth if they discovered us, but not before we discovered a lot more about each other. So the next time you hear "I'm bored" on a car trip, here's one more idea to pass the time.