February 22, 2010
Today I want to talk about “Chunking.” (Pause for uncomfortable chuckles.)
I heard this great bit on NPR a few weeks back about some new research around the old idea that most people can hold about 4 things in short term memory (give or take, depending on how much weed you smoked in college and whether your wife just told you what time to pick up the kids at soccer practice). The upshot is that if you empty your head you’ll eat better. Or something like that.
Anyway. My son Ian doesn’t chunk. He deletes.
Kim and I recently went to Washington D.C. together. Sunday to Thursday. Our kids are old enough now that we just leave a few boxes of Reese’s Puffs on the counter and head out. Sort of. The days of arranging every minute of every day (Kim always took care of that, that’s not really one of my strengths) for whomever was taking care of the kids are over.
These days Kim just writes a couple notes on a napkin and hopes nobody uses it to clean up. As if anybody would clean anything up in our absence.
Anyway, we were leaving Sunday afternoon, so Friday morning, before school, we had a little conference with the kids to let them in on the plan.
(The Plan: Friday night, Kim and I go to Ogden for a famous-marriage-speaker conference thingy; Saturday, we all ski; Sunday, we all go to church together, then Kim and I head to airport, kids go to friend’s house to spend the night; ski Monday; normal rest of week with Grandma staying at house; Kim and I return Thursday night. See? All of that could fit on one side of a napkin. I wouldn’t even mess up my feet (‘) and inches (“) symbols.)
Friday night (about 12 hours after we briefed the kids on The Plan), Shelle calls laughing to say she called the house for Kim, and Ian told her we were in D.C. “They left this morning.” So I called Ian to tell him how awesome D.C. was.
He was so sure we were in D.C. that it took me five minutes to convince him that we were home. In the end I had to take a picture of myself holding up the local newspaper before he caved.
And even then, I don’t think he was sure.