That’s Why Father Time Also Carries a Scythe

RU: “How much longer do we have until we get there?”

The Dad: “About four Daniel Tiger* episodes.”

(Time passes)

RU: “How long will it be before we get there?”

The Dad: “Um. We’ve got about two Daniel Tigers.”

(Later)

RU: “Ugh! How much longer?”

The Dad: “A little more than one Daniel Tiger. We’ll say one and a quarter Daniel Tigers.”

RU: “How much is that?”

The Dad: “A quarter is the same as one-fourth. If you cut Daniel Tiger in half, and then cut one of those half Daniel Tigers in half again, that’s one fourth. It’s half of a half.”

RU: “…”

The Dad: “Maybe it’d be easier to imagine cutting an apple into four pieces. Except it’s with time.”

RU: “So how long will it be?”

The Dad: “Just one Daniel Tiger.”

*We have taken to measuring time in Daniel Tiger Units (DTUs), which is the length of one episode of Daniel Tiger’s Neighborhood**. It’s a span of time that the girls can relate to, as opposed to using “minutes” which can be awfully abstract and changeable for a kid. During rest time, for example, our girls just have to lay down quietly for twenty minutes. But if they get up or play around or get loud, we restart their time. We tell them this, of course, but the result is still that their “twenty minutes” of rest time actually lasts an hour or more. Plus, sometimes they fall asleep for a while and their “twenty minutes” is over whenever they wake up. Kids are often told that something will take “one minute” or “five minutes,” but what’s really meant is “some small amount of time — no I don’t know exactly how long.” For kids who are still learning to tell time, then, “minutes” can seem like a very amorphous concept. Daniel Tiger Units, on the other hand, offer a unit of time that their experience of is relatively fixed. Our girls have a good sense of about how long an episode is. Plus, the length of DTUs makes them a robust unit for measuring many things that kids ask about, as opposed to using minutes and hours, which are two units of time. How long until lunch? One Daniel Tiger. How long is it to Nana’s house? About eight Daniel Tigers. How long are all the extended editions of The Lord of the Rings movies? Altogether, almost 33 Daniel Tigers.

**There is some controversy over exactly how long a DTU is considered to be. Daniel Tiger episodes are allotted a 30-minute time slot in a television programming schedule. That actually clocks in at 28 minutes. To make matters even more confusing, each “full episode” of Daniel Tiger’s Neighborhood is comprised of two distinct 11-minute episodes (no, I don’t know where the other six minutes comes from). So, is one DTU 30 minutes, 28 minutes, or 11 minutes? I have settled on using DTUs to refer to “about twenty minutes,” or one Rest Time. I don’t know which measurement the Wife uses.