what a 9 year old boy taught me about impossible things

it's not impossible this is a tale about a really important lesson that a 9 year old boy taught his parents.  those parents are now $100 poorer because of it.  those same parents couldn't be more proud.  here's how it went down.

we were sitting down for dinner a few nights ago and my husband was telling us some fact that he learned from one of the science teachers at his school.

chris, to all of us at the table  ::  "if it were possible to fold a piece of paper in half 50 times, how thick do you think it would be?" jack :: about 4 inches. maggie :: about this big (holding her fingers about 2 inches apart) me :: you CAN'T fold a piece of paper 50 times — it's something like 5 or 7 is the maximum number of times you can fold any paper, no matter how big. emmie :: i have no idea we all gave a few more guesses as chris kept trying to tell us that it would be WAY bigger than 4 inches and i kept insisting that it wasn't possible anyway. {turns out it would be as thick as the distance from her to the sun. and if you folded it in half one more time for a total of 51 times, it would go to the sun and back.}

then jack said, "mom, you can fold a piece of paper more than 5 times!"  i said, "nope,  it's either 5 or 7 times is the max."  chris said he remembered something similar, so he took the nearest scratch piece of paper (not hard in our cluttered house), and proceeded to fold it 5 times.  and then a 6th.  so we figured it must be that you can't fold it more than 6 times. chris tried and tried and couldn't fold it a seventh time.

jack grabbed the paper and folded it 6 times.  he then tried and tried to fold it the 7th time, getting more and more frustrated with each try.  he started to try so hard his face turned red and he started shaking with the effort.  at that  point i made him stop given that he recently suffered a concussion and thought surely he was doing damage to his brain.

he kept saying," i know i can fold it one more time!" i looked at him with a sympathetic smile and said, "honey, it's impossible."  he kept trying, getting  more and more adamant that he could do it.  chris said, "jack, you have to stop now, it's impossible!"  to which jack replied, "yes it is!"  so chris blurted out, "jack, i will give you $100 if you can fold it 7 times."  man, you should have seen the intensity go up and his fervent efforts to fold that paper just....one.....more.....time.

he started doing the turning red and shaking-with-effort thing again so i told him he had to stop to save his brain from more damage.  i told him to go up and get ready for bed.  he started crying due to his disappointment and frustration (and the fact that he didn't win the $100 bet.) i  tried to soothe him by saying, "jack, it's not YOU, it's just not possible."

fast forward to the next night.  i was relaxing in the bath while chris did stories and prayers with the kids.  i heard the door open and chris walked in with a mystified smile.  "7 times,"  he said.  confused, i replied, "huh?"  he started beaming and said, "he folded the paper 7 times." i sat straight up, "are you serious?!"  "he did it."

i'm a mom who believes wholeheartedly in my children.  my husband and i teach our kids that they can do and be anything they want if they work hard enough and believe hard enough.  we are both coaches who tell our athletes to never ever give up on their dreams.  but somehow we had a momentary lapse.

as i tucked him into bed that night i whispered to him, "i am so, so proud of you.  your own mother and father told you that something wasn't possible, and you believed in yourself and you did it anyway.  don't ever, ever lose that.."

i made that poster at the top of this post for him and put it his room.  i think i need one for my work space too.

and for the record, you can apparently fold a piece of paper 12 times.  a high school girl did it.