A very snowy winter is turning to a long, slow spring here in Minnesota. It is the kind of spring that makes us joyful for sunny 45° days.
So I went for a long walk Sunday afternoon. Together with a meaningful percentage of the population of the city of Saint Paul, I found myself walking around Lake Como.
As my walk to the park transitioned to the path around the lake, I passed a mom and two girls—probably sisters—aged approximately 6 and 8. The girls rode scooters, but were not in any particular hurry.
I was a few yards ahead of one scooting child, and a ways behind the older one when the mother asked the younger one, “How many times do you think the boys will pass us?”
“Ten times!” the child declared.
“I hope not ten times!” the mother replied.
By this time, the child in the lead had turned around and was scooting back to where her companions were on the path. The younger one excitedly asked “How many times will they pass us?” and the mother clarified, “The boys are running around the lake three times. How many times do you think they’ll pass us?”
The wind was blowing, and I was walking faster than the family, so any further discussion I cannot report. But it was a lovely question, full of possibility. For example, these are natural ways the conversation could continue:
What is the most times the running boys could pass them?
Who will finish first, the runners doing three laps or the scooters doing one?
Overall, it was just a lovely and simple question that arose naturally from the context of the afternoon’s activities. It called for a prediction which could be checked and discussed (or not) later on.
And just as I was finishing my own lap around the lake, two boys about the age of 12 jogged past me, presumably finishing their own second lap.