Schrödinger’s House

We’ve left the teenagers at home today, all alone, which is our way of blessing them and ourselves, while we take our littles to their first lacrosse tournament a whole city away to play at the minor league ball park where the team is named after hops, which are used to make beer, which makes me happy and is why Oregon is great and weird and a wonderful place to live.

It’s sunny and warm and enough of a rarity that we’re all decked out in short sleeved shirts and short pants and wearing sunscreen that smells like coconuts because the only bottle we could find was at the bottom of a bathroom drawer, half full and gummy on the outside, a freebie from an ancient vacation that was long enough ago that we’re sure we were only blissful and not at all argumentative or impatient or grumbly or mean.

Our boys are rather terrible at lacrosse, with brains that work faster than their bodies, and helmets and muscles a little wobbly. They won’t be terrible forever, though, because they keep trying and flailing and working hard and listening to their coach and making mistakes and having small successes followed by failures and learning from it all, which is a lesson I wish I’d learn about being terrible at things and failing and flailing; that there is grime there in the mess, yes — grime, absolutely — and also grace and growth. In smaller measures than I’d like most often, but grace and growth all the same and all the time if I have the courage to see them and build on them instead of berating myself which I’m more practiced at doing and is easier and more intuitive.

None of which is the point. Or, rather, is exactly the deeper point, which I’m not trying to make today because I have one that’s more inane but scientific and therefore educational and worth our time, which is this…

We left our teenagers home today. And we do not know what they are doing. So when our friends and family see us out and about without our usual large brood, they say, “Where are your kids?” and “What are they doing?” and, when they find out, “Is the house burning down??”  which is an excellent question. EXCELLENT question, and can only be answered with science.

“Is your house burning down?” they ask, and we answer, “Yes. Also, no. We aren’t there, so our house is both burning and it isn’t. It’s Schrödinger House.” 

Schrödinger’s cat is a thought experiment devised by Austrian physicist Erwin Schrödinger in 1935. The scenario presents a cat that may be simultaneously both alive and dead — existing in a state of paradox — until an observer imposes reality, at which point the cat is either alive or dead, but not both.

So, you see, both are currently a reality. Our house is burning and it isn’t, and both will be true until we pull into the driveway, at which point the house will be standing or it will be ash. For some reason, this makes far, FAR more sense to me than the Schrödinger’s cat explanation ever did.

In conclusion, science for the win! And also, I hope the house is still standing when we get home.

With love,





P.S. Parenting children who ask hard questions about spandex, marmalade, and hot, fiery penises is challenging, but parenting Erwin Schrödinger must have been a real bear. Let us retroactively pray for his mother. Bless her, Lord Jesus, and all the questions she endured. May she rest in peace forever. Amen.


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3 responses to “Schrödinger’s House”

  1. As soon as I read this, I went and looked at your house out our front window. It wasn’t burning.

    On the outside…

    On the side I could see…

  2. I have always said that my infant was Shrodinger’s baby, because he is asleep/awake until you open the door to check, which causes his state to settle on awake. (Yes, I know about baby monitors, but I have a small house so don’t own one. Also the kids broke the old one by using it as a walkie-talkie.)

  3. Because you are a kindred spirit, I will warn you that the last time I used old sunscreen I did a very good boiled lobster impression.

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