To an untrained ear, you might think that my toddler was addressing me using a sweet accent he picked up from overhearing Downton Abbey.
Now that I think about it, that would be pretty sweet. But what he’s referring to is something even sweeter in my opinion.
He’s actually saying, “Moon!! Look at the moon!”
Lately, my kid has become obsessed with everything moon-like, which developed quite randomly and unexpectedly. My husband and I, before we were parents, used to think it was weird and quirky when we saw kids being obsessed with seemingly random objects. Of course, we now realize that, with toddlers, random is the norm. Case in point – I once babysat for a sweet 4 year old boy. On one of our first meetings, I asked him to go get his favorite book and we’d read together. He brought out a ceiling fan catalog. I glanced at his mom, who happened to still be in the room, and she smiled and nodded. Unsure of how to read this book, I asked the kid to read to me and he proceeded to point out particular fans and explained to me exactly why they were his favorite. Yuup.
My son’s obsession with moons began innocently enough through reading his growing collection of books. I never realized how many kid books have moons in them or reference moons – there are a lot. There’s Goodnight Moon, for starters, and on the very first page of The Very Hungry Caterpillar there is a large moon. We started pointing these out, among other objects in the pictures, to Dylan when we read to him every night. And then one night, he started saying it back to us. He’d point at the yellow crescent and coo, Mumm!
I remember the first time Dylan pointed and named the real moon. We were coming out of the library and it was just starting to get dark. The lights in the parking lot had come on already, and since my kid loves lights, I figured he was pointing to a light, thinking it was the moon. But nope, he knew the difference and he had also made the connection between the yellow crescents on paper with the glowing crescent in the sky. What an amazing moment.
Since then, he works hard to seek out the moon wherever he can. If he spots a yellow circle, it’s the moon. Even pictures of the sun are, in fact, the moon. (Duh, mama!) He’ll sit in his room and page through books he knows have moon pictures in them just to point them out to us (or to confirm they are still there).
More recently still, Dylan has started searching the sky looking for the moon. He asks us to take him outside or to a window so he can see it. (Points to window/door and shouts MUMMM!) If it’s the wrong time of day, or if it’s overcast (welcome to the pacific northwest, moonlovers!), we explain to him that we can’t see it right now, and he gets so very frustrated and upset.
All of this is incredibly exciting for me to watch. First, it’s evidence that my son is learning, growing, and showing preferences and making connections. How freaking cool is that?! Second, I love astronomy and space travel and…the moon. When I took the PSATs, they had you list your projected career choice. As a Junior in high school, I chose astronomer (this was while I was still in denial about my abilities in physics and quantum mechanics). I can quote Apollo 13 in its entirety. The Air and Space Museum is one of my all-time favorites. I just watched a documentary about Scott Kelly’s historic year spent on the space station. One of my favorite movies – Contact – speaks to me on so many levels. I even insisted we visit Arecibo while Brian and I were in Puerto Rico a few years ago. It was my nerdy pilgrimage of joy!
So anyways, I am so excited to be able to share my love of space science with my son! I told Brian that it’s only a matter of time until we have to get Dylan a telescope. (And by Dylan, I mean me, because I was the kid who asked for a telescope and instead got a pair of high-powered binoculars. So much for getting to be Ellie Arroway.) I can’t wait to explain to Dylan why the moon is always in a new place in the sky and why it looks like it keeps changing shape. And why we have seasons and about retrograde planetary motion and red shift and blue shift!! So far, we’ve introduced Dylan to Neil DeGrasse Tyson’s reboot of Cosmos (which is a really cool program, I might add). And while Dylan largely ignores it to play with his toys, he always comes back to pictures of the moon.