Sunday, April 13, 2008

Dear Alex and the moon.

Another Saturday morning on the couch, watching endless re-runs of "the crying baby" on daddy's computer - a little clip of her crying madly for "mommy, mommy, mommy" - I wonder what it is about it that fascinates her.

At play in the country, having fun outside - lots of snot, but so-o-o much better than yesterday.

A moment of reflective joy next to pony. The whole trip was really because she wanted to see "pink pony."

We finally had enough of the city, so Dear Alex and daddy came to a joint decision this grey New York Saturday to get in the car and go to the country - Dear Alex had been hinting at it for days, and I've personally been on my own crusade to go, if for no other reason than for the change in scene and perspective, and the time to think and pause - it's a small mental break from the routine and the pressure to find something engaging for the kid - though just walking down any street provides enough entertainment for her to do it for days, with the constant and ever-engaging questions of "what's this and what's that?" We had a fine ride in the car, and as we were crossing the George Washington bridge Dear Alex told me that she was going to fall asleep in her car-seat, and she magically did - somewhere just after Paterson, NJ - just like that. Out. She woke up just as we were crossing the little bridge into Pennsylvania, and we went to the store and bought enough groceries to stay for a week - even though we're going back to the city tomorrow. I should never food-shop when I'm hungry. We did nothing for the rest of the day but hang out, and play outside and visit briefly with our kind and wonderful across-the-street neighbors. It was a very nice day - a reminder, a taste of a summer yet to come - warm in the sun with that hint of cool winter-was-just-here undertone. There's no sign of green in the trees yet, but you can just feel it coming. We had a late dinner, and got the PJs on at 8 or so and put on slippers and I put the girl in one of Beautiful Wife's jackets (which she loved) then we turned out the house lights and went outside to see the night sky - something Dear Alex and I haven't done in a long, long time. There was a beautiful perfect half-moon high in the sky with a scattering of stars, not fully out as the sky went from black at the zenith to a deep pink purple on the horizon from the long sunset. Dear Alex was amazed, and asked me about the moon and where it was up in the sky and "is it big?" And I told her that it was indeed very big, but it was very far away, and that's why it's so small in the sky. She sang "twinkle twinkle little star" to the stars, pointed to one she decided was her favorite, then asked me again "where is the moon?" - I said it was far away, but it traveled with us around the sun, and then I tried to explain to her how it all worked - that the Earth was a planet that went around the sun and the moon was like a planet that went around the Earth. She's a little young for the whole celestial mechanics thing, but it seemed to hold her attention. Somewhere along the way I told her that Man had walked on the moon back when daddy was little, and someday someone might do it again - this absolutely floored her - I had to explain it, then show her pictures of the Earth from space, and pictures of astronauts on the lunar surface. (thank you, internet) She noted the helmets and gloves and (in her words) "the big thick coats" (the spacesuits) they were wearing. Her biggest question to me was "what was her name who walked on the moon?" As I said Neil Armstrong, It occurred to me there was never a her on the moon. Pity. We both got something out of staying up late tonight, and It was a weird delight to hear my daughter say "I live on earth." I love this girl for the questions, and that through the whole time we were outside, she never stopped looking up in amazement at the sky.

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