As an avid shower person, I sometimes forget how awesome it is to take a bath every night—which is strange, in that I do give Kina nightly baths. Lately, she’s been mildly obsessed with the inner logic of drains (see also: “Why Is the Drain Like a Magnet?”) and is currently puzzling through the matter of whirlpools. Why are some whirlpools big and others small? Why is it that a whirlpool, disrupted, forms anew? Is it possible to make a whirlpool with one’s hand? What if one twirls one’s hand around faster? It’s fun to think about all this with her, because I know literally nothing at all about whirlpools. Approaching a natural mystery from a perspective almost equally as naïve as your kid’s is a rare treat, in that you’re both figuring it out as you go (again, see also: “Where Does Coronavirus Come From?”, but with less existential dread—unless you really hate the idea of whirlpools). Kina and I are not much for long baths, but we have started to wait around for the evening’s first whirlpool, just to talk about it, and to howl like drunk frat boys when we see a particularly impressive one. If you don’t have a kid, it’s well worth taking a bath to see it.
Kina’s friend Nikola has been out of the city for a while, and the two of them have missed each other tremendously throughout this very long year. As mentioned in an earlier edition (“Nikola Plays New Role in Bedtime Story Plots”), Nikola has become the main protagonist of Kina’s nightly stories—often landing in peculiar pinches like getting stuck in washing machines, waking up too early, or staying too long at Panda’s house. So when we learned that Niki would be coming to town, Kina was thrilled, and stayed thrilled up until the very moment she walked outside to see him. What ensued was a classic overwhelmed-preschooler moment, in which the children both refused to engage with each other and burst into tears because they weren’t engaging with each other. It was the saddest thing to see, because I know that both of them (like most preschoolers these days) aren’t getting anything near the daily quotient of Other Kids that they require, and Nikola and his mom were leaving town later that day. We vowed to get them together again sometime in the next few months, but parted ways. Later that day, Hannah and Kina ran across Niki on the street, and the two of them smoothed things over. I received several photos of two smiling kids on scooters, playing like it was 2019 and enjoying themselves in the way you’d expect for friends who have known each other since they were two months old. We miss them a lot, Niki and his mom, and it gives me all the more fuel I need to help us get through this so we can see them again.
In the twelve minutes I just spent watching an overwrought video about the biggest whirlpools on Earth and reading the canonical Wikipedia article on whirlpools, I learned more about them than I—a person who has long assumed there are several 250-foot-wide whirlpools just permanently spinning in the ocean—have ever even casually contemplated. It turns out bathtub whirlpools are mostly different from what mariners think of as whirlpools, and while largish permanent whirlpools aren’t the width of a football field and won’t pull you into a drain at the bottom of the ocean, they are dangerous! Don’t mess with whirlpools!