I have always heard about seeing things through the eyes of a child, which immediately makes me think of imaginative play, silly questions, and Christmas. And while my daughter has refreshed my perspective in those respects, she has also managed to open my eyes in ways I hadn’t even thought of.
I’m sure other people can relate to this, but when I was a kid, I would get mildly obsessed with a topic. Lots of times, it was sparked by something I learned in school, or maybe ended up doing a report on. I remember I was totally into Australia for a while, was an 11-year-old expert on constellations, and, well, I hope you weren’t trying to borrow any books on dogs from my school library during 1986, because chances are they were all checked out to me. Like every kid, I loved learning. And let’s be honest, kids still have everything to learn.
In my grammar school days, my capacity to learn was much greater: it was the age of Encyclopedia Britannica, and I had a fresh, fully functioning young brain. Don’t get me wrong, as an adult I dig zoning out to something on Discovery now and then, but if you were to quiz me on whatever the topic was a week later, chances are I won’t have retained much info. I like to learn, but it’s almost as though my brain can’t hack it anymore.
I don’t recall how or why my daughter started showing interest in the solar system, but she did. And when we stumbled across a little book on Mars at the free library at my girlfriend’s store, I snagged it. Mars is now her “favorite planet”. I’ve picked up some kids’ books and we’ve been reading all about our solar system and learning about the planets. And when I say “we” I do mean “we”. I mean really, how have I gone my whole life not knowing that it was physically impossible to land on Jupiter, Saturn, Uranus (teehee), or Neptune with a space craft? Apparently they are gas giants. Like, made of gas. As in, not a solid. Did I once know this and forget? Or am I just learning this at 40?
Science is so fucking cool, man.
So here I am, with a renewed interest in learning stuff I may have already learned long, long ago. Or at least certainly feel that I should have already learned. And I’m thoroughly enjoying watching my daughter soak things up with that spongy little brain. So after I finished reading to her the other night before final lights out, I was quizzing her on the planets. I couldn’t remember what the deal was with Pluto — and I admitted that. Didn’t the astronomer community disagree on what it was or something like that? Anyway, she just looked at me, appeared to be a little disappointed, and said, “It’s a dwarf planet, Mom.”
Looks like I’m being lapped by my 4.5 year old in the brain division. I may need to spend more time with my nose in her Little Kids First Big Book of Space.