Spotlight On: How Long Is Five Minutes?
by Rachael O'Halloran
Published August 8, 2014
Depending on your viewpoint and activity, time has different meaningsClick thumbnail to view full-size
It should have been an easy question!
My eight year old granddaughter Katie is visiting with me here in Florida this week with my daughter. On Sunday, we are all going to drive up to Virginia to vacation for a couple of weeks at the beach. We love it there and right now, everyone is in "anticipation mode," including me. Vacation can't get here fast enough and I'm just so glad I don't have to drive.
When Katie and I spend one-on-one time together, she doesn’t usually want to do the same activities that I do with the other grandchildren, like going to feed the ducks at the lake or going to a skateboard park. If other children are with us, reluctantly she’ll go.
But for her "Granny" time, she likes me to sit with her to watch a well-plotted movie (no cartoons for her!) or maybe take a trip to the library to spend quality time with "real books" instead of reading virtual books on her laptop or her Kindle.
Our face to face conversations are more like marathon discussions where one topic will continue over several days. I swear there's a 40 year old living in that 8 year old body. She doesn’t waste time talking about frivolous topics; she’s a deep thinker. She’ll consult the computer for answers to her questions before she will ask a human. Oh, but when she does ask ... yes, I do sometimes cringe.
I tend to brace myself because her questions sometimes require me to spend some time clicking through encyclopedia websites looking for the answer. Usually I call out for my son Cameron who lives with me, because he's the brainiac here.
If she asks me a "theory" question, well ... let's just say that I am not shy about admitting that my 130 IQ is no match for her 165 IQ.
So this week, out of the blue she asked me:
"Granny, how long is your five minutes?"
Finally, I thought, a question I could answer without consulting Wikipedia!
Note to Readers:
Katie speaking appears in bold type with quotation marks.
Granny speaking (that's me!) appears in regular type with quotation marks. Bulleted text and parentheses are my commentary.
"Katie, five minutes is exactly five minutes."
After about 10 seconds, Katie said, "Not so, Granny, and I can prove it to you."
- (Oh, Lord, my short-lived relief was over. She was going to give my brain another turbo-workout.)
I explained: "Katie, five minutes really IS exactly five minutes! Five minutes in London England is the same as five minutes in Sydney Australia or in New York City. The actual time on the clock is different because of time zones, but five minutes passes in exactly five minutes in each place."
"I know, but how long is it for you? Exactly how long does your five minutes take to pass?"
"Well, it passes differently for each person. Five minutes can seem like an eternity, or five minutes can feel like it's just one minute. It's still only five minutes."
- (Obviously with this question, my five minutes was going to last at least one hour.)
"But you just said five minutes is five minutes.
"If it's the same amount of time for each person, how come each person doesn’t experience five minutes as five minutes?"
"Ok, I see now. Well, it depends on what activity you are doing in those five minutes and if you find it enjoyable or not. If I am waiting in a very long line at the supermarket, five minutes can seem like an hour. But if I spend the time flipping through a magazine from the checkout racks or if I have someone to talk to in order to pass the time, five minutes passes a little more quickly."
The Clocks Are Set 5 Minutes Apart
"But you are still not answering my question. How long is five minutes for you?"
"My five minutes is different depending on what I’m doing. If I call a utility company on the phone and they put me on hold for five minutes, that five minutes can feel as long as twenty minutes."
"Before you get ticked and hang up."
"Right, but if I'm spending the time with my granddaughter, every five minutes is fleeting."
"Good answer, Granny, but not THE answer."
"Do you mean there's ONE answer to this question?"
"Maybe not one, but there is an answer. Want to try again?"
- (She's obviously enjoying this, so I decided to turn the tables.)
"Hey, let’s look at it from your prospective to see how long it takes for five minutes to pass for you."
"Granny, we are talking about YOUR five minutes. Let's try a little exercise. We'll talk about something for 5 minutes and at the end, we'll evaluate ourselves to see if the five minutes passed quickly or slowly for each of us."
- (She set my kitchen egg timer for 5 minutes. I was sure she had a point, I just wasn't grasping it. I said I would pick the topic, so I purposely picked one I knew was enjoyable to her - our upcoming vacation. For the five minutes to pass slowly for her, she had to be a listener which meant I had to monopolize the conversation to keep her from participating. I apologize in advance for the droll.)
"Ok, Katie, I'll start. Let’s say you, your parents and your sisters are really looking forward to going to Virginia Beach for vacation."
"I know! All of us are excited. So now, everyone is packed, and all you kids are waiting in the car as your parents spend five minutes to run down their checklist to make sure all the luggage and boxes of supplies are packed in the car.
"To you and your sisters, it might seem like this is taking a very long time, but it's only five minutes. The reason it might seem longer is because all of you are in 'waiting mode.'
"When you are in “traveling mode," the actual two hour drive to the beach can seem like the longest ride of your life, but it's still only two hours. It’s seems long because you can’t wait to get to the beach to start your vacation.
"But when it’s time to go home, you'll notice that your parents loaded the luggage in what seemed like the quickest five minutes ever. The same two hour drive going home passed so quickly that before you know it, you are back in your home, getting ready to start school on the following Monday."
"Groan. I wish we only went to school for 6 months at a time. Ok, Granny, nice story but what's the moral of it?"
"Because you have high anticipation about getting to your vacation destination, a place you really want to go, the two hours it takes to get to there will pass by slowly, so that two hours feels much longer.
"Because you are filled with dread about returning to school, a place you really don't want to go, the two hours it takes to get home will pass by quickly, so that the two hours seemed like just an hour when it was the same two hours.
"Anything we don't want to do, the date and time creeps up on us very quickly. Things we want to do and are looking forward to, the date and time seems to take forever to arrive."
How Long Is Your Five Minutes?
"Ok, time's up. How did that five minutes feel to you, Granny?"
"It went by very quickly for me. How about you?"
"I thought you'd never get done talking!"
"I have another moral of the story for you, Katie. If you are participating in an activity, you don't notice the time passing. If you are on the other end of the activity, you notice the actual time passing much more slowly because you want the activity to end."
"So you're saying if I am busy, I won't notice time passing so much?"
"I knew that! Really, I did!"
(At the look of disbelief on my face, she kept saying it over and over.)
"C'mon! Granny, I totally knew that."
There's always a reason ....
"So Katie, what happened? What made you ask this question?"
"You need to check your computer, Granny, especially your Google Hangouts."
Autistic Temple Grandin's mother tells about raising her daughter
TTY phones, voice to text
Google Hangout is Google's answer to a glorified chat room. I use it to create a place to be able to talk in "real" time to my 5 children and 7 of my 10 grandchildren.
I'm not on Facebook or any social networks like other people, and I don't use any of the instant messenger mail programs. Google Hangout takes care of all my needs with text and video.
Although my speech is perfect, I have been deaf in one ear for most of my married life, which got worse about 20 years ago after a road rage accident. What started out as 30% loss is now 95% deafness.
With technology, I can hear most normal range voices, so I have a lot of experience using assistive devices. All my children have TTY phones in their homes so we can communicate. Using our TTY phones are easy but if I can avoid using the phone, I do. If one party starts "talking" before the other is done, one can have their text cut off and they have to repeat.
If you look at the photos to the right, you may agree with me that the idea behind the TTY phone and the computer are the same concept. The phone changes voice to text but they are both still based in text. I think typing on the computer is faster for all of us in the Hangout and it's nice because I can add anyone to a Hangout to join in conversation. Lots of times, there may be more than just two of us "talking."
Kids rather text
Kids rather text and talk using the computer or their cellphones, so I'm more than glad to oblige. When typing, we don't have to repeat ourselves. It's the one place they will never hear me say "What did you say?" lol
My daughter, Katie's mother, and I talk every Tuesday after her Bible Study. Because she and Katie are here with me this week, we didn't use a Hangout.
I talk to Katie every Sunday after her Sunday School.
So when Katie said to check my computer, a quick check of my Google home page shows I left two Hangouts open, which is unusual for me. One was from Friday, August 1, 2014 with my son who lives in California and one was from Sunday, August 3, 2014 with Katie who lives in Virginia.
The last text my son wrote was: Mom, hold on. Christa (his wife) wants to talk to you. So I left the Hangout open, expecting Christa to type.
I guess I'm still 'hanging.'
The one with Katie says: Katie, I have to go put my roast in the oven. I'll be back in five minutes.
Ugh! Famous last words.
I thought this was the funniest 23 seconds I've spent in a long time, which only proves one thing. I really, really need a vacation. BADLY.
About the book "The Reason I Jump" featured in the Amazon capsule below this paragraph
My granddaughter Katie is not autistic. She's just very bright. But my son Cameron (now an adult) is autistic savant and when we were raising him, I wish there had been more books written to be able to understand better. We did just fine, but it would have been nice to have a smoother road.
This book has been endorsed by many celebrities and has over 1300 positive reviews on Amazon. The publisher's blurb says it takes the reader inside the mind of a 13 year old autistic boy, as told by himself. My friends who have read this book say it lives up to its reputation and it is excellent.
My daughter is reading it and passing her copy to her sisters. She is raving about it and says there is much that is like her brother Cameron. Since I have to wait too long for the book to come to me, I just bought my copy and I will be reading it on vacation. Even if you aren't raising an autistic child, you might know one, so pick up a copy of this book.
I'm not sharing mine. lol
The Reason I Jump - As Told By A 13 Year Old Autistic Boy.
The message to the exercise
I don't know why I didn't return to the Hangout with Katie. Too much time has gone by for me to remember my movements of that day, outside of cooking a roast.
My notes say that I talked to my husband Joe (he's working in Virginia) and several grandchildren and children that day in separate Hangouts, but it seems I just forgot to come back to finish talking with Katie.
Katie and her mother arrived here on Monday night to stay for the week. On Sunday, we'll all drive up to Virginia Beach for our vacation.
Katie, that little minx, never said a word when she arrived here that I left her hanging in the Hangout.
Leaving Katie at the kitchen table typing on her laptop, I went to my computer to close my Hangouts.
When I sat down at my computer, 8 year old Katie had typed this text into our Hangout:
"Granny, the real message to the exercise was: If you are going to hangout in the Hangout, don't forget who you left hanging for five minutes, because five minutes means something different to everyone."
I typed back to her:
"Indeed, it does. Lesson learned."
Two days, ugh
© Rachael O'Halloran, August 8, 2014
© "Time" Cartoon Strip - Rachael O'Halloran 2014
© "How Long Is Your Five Minutes" Cartoon Strip - Rachael O'Halloran 2014
Do Not Copy
© 2014 Rachael O'Halloran