This year I encouraged my eight-year-old son to play “Stump Dad” as often as possible, posing questions of any kind that I, as the All Father, would be required to answer. Benefits:
A. Father/son bonding and communication
B. Proof that grownups are not only flawed and embarrassingly ignorant, but that it’s OK as a person to admit this
C. Sight of Dad looking stuff up, which will theoretically enforce the virtues of research and curiosity
D. Learning opportunities for both of us
E. Frequent hilarity and fascination with the world
F. New source of blog posts (this one just occurred to me recently)
Here’s one he asked the other night as we were driving past an ambulance:
WHY DO THEY CALL IT A STRETCHER?
I’d never thought to question this. Perhaps because a person stretches out upon it, I thought, but then we got to thinking: hospitals have chairs with wheels and they don’t call them sitters; they call them the most logical name imaginable. So why not “wheel bed” instead of stretcher? Only later did I wonder if the stretching part refers to the accordion-style pop-up function of the bed, but even then…it’s like calling a wheelchair a spoker in reference to its spokes.
The actual answer? According to the Online Etymology Dictionary, it is in fact named after the act of stretching people out along its length. The stretcher was named before it had wheels, when it was simply a canvas frame, so I suppose the term isn’t so weird after all. And I feel dumb in retrospect, having ignored the existence of wheel-less stretchers (still common, of course) when he asked.
But so it goes with Stump Dad.