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Posts Tagged ‘Parenting’

The Shield

I used to teach comedy traffic school many years ago when I was fresh out of college and didn’t know what to do with my life. It was great. I worked in the office with friends signing people up, then learned how to teach the course, then eventually taught all over the Bay Area. Funny thing though, the class I meant to audit to become a teacher, I actually had to enroll in because I got a speeding ticket. There was lots of laughter from my fellow traffic violators when they learned that. One of the things I learned, and taught violators was that for every 2 to 3 thousand times we violate a traffic law do we get caught. You can see where this is going, right?

The other day, I was driving The Littlest E to preschool. We take a certain route down Colfax Avenue and sometimes there’s traffic. To go around the traffic I sometimes drive in the bike lane before making the right hand turn I need to make to avoid the traffic entirely. Well, on this particular day, while I was making said violation (along with another car in front of me), there happened to be a police car next to me as well as an idiotic mother and child wanting to jay walk across the crowded street. For the record, it’s okay to drive in the bike lane, if and only if, the line is split, not solid. I wasn’t doing that.

Bike Lane!

I made the turn, and another left turn to get to Chandler Boulevard, that is the way I take my son to school, and sure enough the police car followed me, turned its lights on and I pulled over. I was hoping they’d follow the guy in front of me, but no. It was my turn. As I was stopped the car, I told my son, “I’m getting pulled over by the police.” He asked, “Why Mama?” I said, “Because I may have done something wrong.” At this point my heart was racing, was I going to get a ticket or warning? Was the police officer going to be nice? Was this going to be a positive teaching moment for my son who observes everything? If I got a ticket, would my insurance go up? Would I have to attend traffic school? All these questions entered my head in the seconds it took me to pull over.

The most important thing for me regardless of whether I got a ticket or not, was that my son witness a positive encounter with the police. The Littlest E is not aware of events that happened in Ferguson, South Carolina, New York, or Florida, but he may have seen a bit of the Ferguson coverage while I was watching the news. Did he fully understand know what happened? No, but he doesn’t like me watching the news anymore. He’s only 5 and, to our knowledge, hasn’t yet really experienced overt or inadvertent racism in his short life. It’s important he know that police officers are there to protect and help us and catch us if we break the law. I was impressed by a recent video of a young black man, Will Stack, who was pulled over by police and after posted a video of his encounter on Facebook. (Google “Will Stack Video” to find it.) We have talked to our son about racism in an age-appropriate way. As The Littlest E grows up, we will definitely fill in the details more thoroughly.

After I stopped, I took my sunglasses off so the officer could see my face. He came over and my window came down. I asked, “Did I do something wrong, Officer?” He told me I was driving in the bike lane. I said, “I thought you were allowed to ride in the bike lane before turning.” He basically told me I was in the lane for too long and I almost cut off a mother and child wanting to cross the street. Mind you, they were going to jay walk, but that’s beside the point. The office didn’t need to hear my inner monologue about that. What I needed for my son to hear was that I was respectful of the officer. He asked for my license, registration and proof of insurance. I then had a “senior” moment not remembering what my registration looked like. To him I probably looked flustered so I then added “It’s been a long time since I’ve been pulled over.” Went into the glove compartment and got the registration and insurance info and gave everything to him.

LAPD

Now the next part is questionable whether I should have said this or not. As the officer walked away with my info, I asked him if he was going to give me a warning or ticket? Maybe I should have kept my mouth shut, but the words tumbled out. A good friend said to me after she heard the story and what I said, “What, were you crazy?” The officer replied, (and he didn’t have to) “Let me check your info first.” While we waited I kept explaining to my inquisitive son what was going on, what the police were doing and how I made a driving mistake and the officer was telling me about it. A female police officer was outside our car standing on the street. I looked at my son and said, “Hey, there’s a female police officer,” while I waved to her.   She came over to the car and I explained to her that I was telling my son about what police officers do and how they are there to protect us and keep us safe. It was probably overkill, but I wanted to make sure my son was okay while all this was going on and that he knew I was okay, too.

Algona Traffic Ticket

The officer in charge came back and told me he was giving me a warning because he wasn’t comfortable giving me a ticket knowing the other driver who did the same thing wasn’t getting one. He instructed me not to drive in the bike lane and told me I could have hit the mother and child. I apologized and promised not to do that again. With sweaty pits, I took back my info, thanked the police officer and started the car. I made sure to obey all traffic laws while driving The Littlest E to school. All the way there, he kept asking, “Mommy, why did you get pulled over?” and other questions. I kept telling him that I broke the law and the police officer was nice enough to give me a warning. He then asked, “Can I tell my teachers about it?” Sure, why not.

It’s been a couple of days and as my son and I drive the route to school, he asks, “When did the police start following you?” “Is this where you got pulled over?” “What did you do wrong, Mommy?” I answer and explain. I’m very grateful that this became a positive teaching moment for both my son and I. It’s important to obey the traffic rules. We think we won’t get caught, but inevitably we do. He saw that the police officers were people and they were helpful. All in all it was a win-win for the both of us. I’m especially grateful that I didn’t get a ticket. My hope is that this will be his only encounter with police. That is my hope.

©2015 Melanie Elliott

Images: banspy, Greg Whalin, John Liu, Keith Tyler

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The Littlest E is going to camp a few days during his summer break.  It’s a camp where a bunch of his friends from preschool are going.  It’s a highly recommended camp and the kids’ ages range from Pre-K to 4th or 5th grade.  Yesterday he went and had a great time, but then on the way home and later that evening he proceeded to tell my husband and me some of the things that happened during his day:

  1. Someone threw his bag with his clothing over a fence. The boy who did that got caught and got in trouble.
  1. Some boy told him to “Shut Up.”
  1. While he was in the bathroom changing out of or into his swimsuit, some older boys came in and peered over the stall calling him “Naked Boy” over and over. He told us it upset him when they did that and that he didn’t like mean boys.

I’m not sure if they were all the same boys who were doing this.  Regardless, it upset my husband and me that our son was upset.  We asked him if there were more nice boys at camp than mean boys and he said, “Yes.”  We asked him if he wanted to go back to camp the next day and he replied, “Yes.”

Here’s where my head went after hearing all this.  With #1, okay, that’s not respectful of someone’s property.  Nothing got lost, stolen or broken. I’m glad the other kid got caught and was talked to. Hopefully it won’t happen again.

With #2, Tom and I do our best to dissuade our son from using words like that. Yes, it is the real world and kids say those words. The Littlest E knows people say words they aren’t supposed to say. He also knows he shouldn’t say them and, so far, he’ll say an occasional Poo Poo or something like, but he knows just because someone else says them, he doesn’t have to.

With #3, that’s where the Mama Bear in me came out. Seriously, older kids are following my son into the bathroom to watch him undress and call him names!?! Then I think are they doing it because he has brown skin and there aren’t many kids with brown skin at camp? Yes, that’s where my head went.

Here’s the gray area – do we say something to the camp?  Was this an isolated incident?  Our son wasn’t crying, but, if this happens again, are we throwing him to the wolves by sending him to camp?  Camp shouldn’t be that.

Over the years, I’ve learned a little thing called Pause.  We didn’t have to make an issue of it last night by calling the camp and saying something.   Tom and I talked about it and decided to ask the camp if they have counselors watching the little ones use the rest room.  We weren’t going to make a big deal, but ask a simple question.  We both felt uncomfortable faced with this and utterly protective of our little guy.

Here’s another gray area – when is it okay to intervene and when should your child fight his/her own battles so to speak?  In preschool the kids learn how to resolve conflict and the teachers work with them on that.  When we’ve had playdates, sometimes the kids work it out themselves and sometimes there’s parent intervention.  When do you get involved in a situation like this?

Tom and I were at a parenting group the other day and a mom mentioned her 6-year old had a thing with one of the other kids.  She asked her daughter if she wanted her to say something or not and the daughter gave her an adamant “No.”  The daughter had worked it out herself.  In this situation, it didn’t need parent intervention and may have caused more harm than good for the daughter by intervening.  It’s a gray area as to when to stick up for your child and when not to.

Here’s what happened this morning:

The Littlest E seemed excited to go back to camp this morning. A good sign, and I breathed in a little sigh of relief. At camp, I checked him in with the counselors in front and we walked in to drop off his bag. I saw a mom from his preschool and, once our sons were off playing, ran what happened yesterday by her. She proceeded to tell me the same thing happened to her son last week and that he was now afraid to put on his swimsuit.

I was bummed to hear it happened to her sweet boy, but also relieved that The Littlest E wasn’t the only one, and even more relieved it was definitely not a racial thing, but bigger kids bullying the little ones. We talked about it and decided to mention something to the office. There’s strength in numbers and I felt better having another mom with me. We got to the office and I asked, “We were wondering if you have any counselors watch the younger kids when they’re in the bathroom?” They initially thought it had to do with wiping and I then mentioned what the older boys were doing, my friend did the same, and the counselors were shocked.

They were very receptive to our concerns, which was comforting. I said that we know that in school there’s always be the kid that doesn’t like you or the bully and they jumped in and said, but not in camp, camp should be fun for everyone. They would address this with the camp supervisor and make sure the little ones get bathroom supervision. They thanked us for bringing it to their attention.

We intervened, but in a gentle way so as to not embarrass our kids, yet also in a way to make sure the camp knows they have an issue that needs attention. Fingers crossed The Littlest E has more positive things to say about his camp experience when I pick him up this afternoon and I hope these kids leave him alone.

Each situation is different and the topic of bullying is larger than this blog post.

Has your child been the object of a bully? When did you intervene on behalf of your child? When did you not? Would love to know your thoughts. Let’s get a conversation going. Comments welcome!

©2014 Melanie Elliott

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Gray

I’m starting a new section in my blog called Parenting Gray Areas. It’ll be located under the “Parent” category at the top of the blog.  As a parent (and in life in general) not a day goes by where there’s a situation or something happens and I wonder what is the best way to respond.  I’m calling it Parenting Gray Areas because there are so many of them, and sometimes there’s more than one answer to the issue, problem or situation.

It’ll be a bit stream of consciousness, figuring things out, brainstorms, ideas, and thoughts.  I’ll write and talk about real stuff, those gray areas of what to do when you come across something new or unknown.  Sometimes I’ll be able to give answers, and sometimes I may only offer questions.  We’ll take it as it comes.  Would sooooo love it to be interactive, get a dialogue going and maybe come up with solutions together.  If there are topics you’d like to bring up, please contact me on Twitter at @Mom2TLE.  Please feel free to comment on blog posts and I promise I’ll respond.

The first post coming up in this section will be on when to intervene in a bullying situation. Stay tuned!

©2014 Melanie Elliott

Image: Marie Brizard

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We recently transitioned The Littlest E from his toddler bed to a big boy bed. He was so excited to be in his new sleeping environment with much more room. Confession: we probably kept him in the toddler bed for too long as his feet were close to touching the end. Silly parents, but we wanted to wait until we knew for sure he wasn’t having nighttime accidents.

Big Boy Bed

Our big boy was over the moon with his new mattress, bed and soft, soft sheets. Plus, he had a real blanket, not a toddler/baby blanket – many comfy nights’ sleep to look forward to. My friend, Cindi, recommended putting pillows at the sides of the bed at bedtime in case my sleeping son fell out. Tom and I thought for sure that wouldn’t happen. Well, guess what? A couple of nights into the new bed and, of course, he fell out. Lesson learned, listen to your friends who have older children and have been through this before.

With the new bed came a clearing out of other things.  Over the almost 4 years since we adopted The Littlest E, I’ve kept particular clothing and items of import. They’ve been in one of his dresser drawers and I decided it was time to put them in a box for safe keeping in our garage.

First Shoes

As I was going through the clothing, blankets and items we’d kept, I couldn’t help but have memories of everything. We’re definitely keeping the outfit he was wearing when he first met us, that day that’s forever embedded in my brain, the day we became a family and he saw us and reached out to me when I asked him in Amharic if I could hold him. There’s his first Halloween outfit, Mariner’s sweats, and Cal Bears onesie. There’s his Lovey, which he still uses, and the baby cell phone we took with us to Ethiopia, and we’re definitely keeping his first shoes, and favorite blankets, plus all his preschool artwork and other things we’ll treasure. Keepsakes we’ll save for him for when he’s older and look at every once in a while just to touch them and remember.

* * *

Fun in the Toddler Bed

Right now, I’m waiting for the Baby2Baby person to come pick up a lot of furniture and other items we are donating, his crib/toddler bed and mattress, the changing table, his Learning Tower, a number of toys he’s too big for, the Little Tikes table he used for several years that he’s outgrown, his car seat, his stroller, blankets and sheets, and I can’t help but wonder, should we be keeping some of this stuff for the future for when The Littlest E is a dad? We have numerous keepsakes, and we’ll hold onto many books that we know will come in handy in years to come. What to keep and what to give away? Baby2Baby is such a great organization. Everything we donate to them will be given to families in need, who need it much more than we do, and who will create their own memories. Pass it on. We have a gazillion photos as well, though most of them are digital. It’s not the same thing, but it’s a sensory memory.

Fun with Rody

Must confess again, I’m a bit weepy saying goodbye to everything. All parents go through this, right? It’s the passing of time, transitions. It happens, and it’s going to continue to happen. Our son has grown close to 3 inches in the past 8 months; he’s getting so big and growing so much inside, too! New clothes, new toys, new books, new adventures, new fads, these are all things to look forward to. In our kitchen, there’s a space where his Learning Tower used to be. It looks empty, but soon a doggie dish and water dish will occupy that space. The Littlest E is starting Pre-K at his preschool in a few weeks, so that’ll be new, too. This is part of what makes parenting special and life-changing, watching the little love of my life get older, learn and grow, become a person with thoughts and opinions, dreams and hopes, skills and talents. It really makes life worth living, living it to its fullest. So, goodbye to the old and welcome the new!

Images: Melanie Elliott

©2014 Melanie Elliott

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This post was written on March 27, 2014.

If you’ve followed my blog since its start, you might remember those early days with The Littlest E when we first brought him home with us from Ethiopia back in the fall of 2010.  Our agency was kind enough to give us his schedule, including meals, but they forgot to tell me how to make his food.  Those early days were very intense being a new mom, adjusting to our little bundle of joy, trying to decipher his culinary needs, etc.  Add to that, within our first few days, we went to the pediatrician who weighed The Littlest E and told us he was in the 3rd percentile for weight.  I misunderstood and thought 1/3 percentile, meaning 33-1/3%.  When I discovered my mistake, the pressure to feed well our newest family member increased substantially.

Artichokes

Artichokes

It was all quite a discovery and I’m happy to say that, by the end of his first year home with us, The Littlest E was in the late 90th percentile for weight. Something was working!  I even wrote a blog about toddlers and green vegetables co-existing.  I didn’t realize back then that it was going to be a short-lived relationship.  The Littlest E ate peas for a spell, but then didn’t like them at all, and to this day, still doesn’t like them.  Not sure where I got the importance of green vegetables.  The other colored veggies are pretty important too.  It may have been growing up that my mom regularly provided us with vegetables of the green variety.  Broccoli, Brussels sprouts, lettuces, asparagus and artichokes were probably a staple in our household.  Plus, when I was in my thirties I had digestive issues and roughage became an essential part of my diet.

Flash forward to being a mom, homemaker and cooker of meals in our household.  That green veggie thing stuck with me all these years.  On this culinary journey with our son, we found green vegetables The Littlest E enjoys eating, salad with Trader Giotto’s Balsamic Vinaigrette salad dressing, and he’ll drink the yummy smoothies we make some mornings that contain a variety of fruits, orange juice, yogurt and kale.

Green Curly Kale

Green Curly Kale

All in all, my son has a pretty diverse palate for someone his age.  He briefly enjoyed spinach, but again, that relationship was short-lived.  Every so often I’ll try another veggie just to see if he’s changed his viewpoint.  Mind you, I’m pretty okay with what he eats, and I’ll admit it’s fun to see him stretch himself and try new things.  He always responded “No” with spinach though, at least in the steamed form.

At his preschool one afternoon after class, I noticed him standing near the vegetable garden the school has in the big yard.  Without hesitation he ate what looked like raw kale or spinach.  An “Aha” moment came to me. If he eats it here, why not at our house, I thought.  That very night I disguised some spinach in his regular Romaine lettuce salad, and he ate it.  Deceptive, yes, yet it worked.  He commented how it tasted like something he ate in the big yard, but I replied, “Oh, that’s interesting.”

I kept this little deception going until last night.  That evening I made for Tom, my husband, and me, baked chicken with spinach and goat cheese.  It’s one of my favorite combinations.  I told our son what we were having for dinner and said, “I know you don’t like that so I’ll make you mac & cheese, but I’d like you to try the chicken, too.”  I made the mac & cheese he loves along with the disguised spinach salad.  At dinner, his mac & cheese was too hot so I suggested he try a bit of my chicken.  Much to my surprise, he wanted more and more and more!  I know it wasn’t necessarily the spinach he was going for, but the goat cheese.  Didn’t matter though.  What mattered was he liked it as is! He then proceeded to eat his mac & cheese while Tom and I dined on our chicken.  Then The Littlest E began to eat his salad.  He commented, “This salad tastes like spinach.”  Do I tell him the truth or continue the deception, I asked myself.

Spinach

Spinach

Truth won.  I replied with a smile, “That’s because it is spinach!  And you like it.”  He smiled, too and continued eating.  I proceeded to tell him the story of when I was a little girl; my brother, sister and I didn’t like spinach at all.  Then one night my mom made this really delicious salad with bits of egg and bacon in it.  We all ate it up and loved it.  I told him, only later did we find out that it was a spinach salad!  He laughed in between bites.

So the deception is over; the secret is out.  Does this mean he’ll continue to eat spinach?  Maybe, maybe not.  Will he eat the chicken with spinach and goat cheese again?  Your guess is as good as mine.  My hope is yes, but we shall see.  As he gets older, his palate is ever-increasing.  We tell him if it’s a new food, he has to at least try it, and usually he does.  I must thank his preschool for introducing him to raw green vegetables.  Their vegetable garden made the spinach deception unnecessary.

P.S. While my husband was driving our son and his friend to gymnastics camp this morning, The Littlest E said to his friend, “I like spinach now!” Maybe this new-found like will last…

© 2014 Melanie Elliott

Images: Market Manager La Grande Farmers’ Market, Nick Saltmarsh, Rae Allen

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I’ve been away from the blog for a spell.  Was working on a project and now have time to write.  I’ve been thinking about this one for a while.  A couple of years ago, we planted Cape Honeysuckle in our front yard creating a wall of green coverage between our property and our neighbor’s.  My husband and I read that Cape Honeysuckle attracted hummingbirds, or as The Littlest E calls them “honey birds,” and it does.  Every day when I’m in our kitchen doing the dishes, I gaze out the windows and often watch a hummingbird or two feast on the delicious nectar inside the beautiful, orange tube-like flowers that bloom on the honeysuckle vines.  It’s truly a sight to behold.  I often hold my curious son and we watch nature in full force as we spy on the birds.

Small Fast Bird

These tiny birds with their long, thin beaks are amazing to watch as they flit their wings at incredible speeds, darting up and down like Snitches from the Harry Potter movies.  We are fortunate to have at least two hummingbirds visit our honeysuckle regularly and they provide a tremendous source of entertainment for our family.  Every so often one of them will actually perch on a branch and sit absolutely motionless and we can see exactly just how small they are.  Time stands still for those brief seconds.  I’m afraid to breathe thinking it’ll scare them away, but then I remember I’m inside the house and they don’t even know I’m watching them.  Soon, the moment is over and they alight again, wings flapping at their rapid pace.  I love that my son can partake in observing such glories right in our own home.

Watching these lovely creatures reminds of an encounter we all had with another hummingbird, and with this encounter, there were no walls or kitchen windows separating us.  Our family had gone up to visit some friends who work and live at Midland School, a college preparatory boarding school in Los Olivos, California where students and faculty live in cabins on campus.  It’s an incredible place with acres of land, farm animals, a sustainable garden (among so many other things) and the students have to chop wood to heat the water for their showers.  We go and visit our friends a couple of times a year and it’s a wonderful getaway.  The Littlest E loves nature and at Midland, it’s all around us with starry skies, clean air, woodsy smells, along with great company and delicious food.

On one particular day, my son was playing with our friends’ kids (who are 12 and 16), along with other children visiting Midland with their parents for a reunion.  There’s a three-walled barn that’s been converted to a basketball court.  The children were playing in the barn supervised by Ian, one of our friends, and they noticed what they thought was a medium-sized rock on the court floor.  Someone almost kicked it away, but realized it wasn’t a rock at all, but a hummingbird that had gotten injured.  It seemed stunned or possibly dead.

Hummingbird in Hand

The incident happened awhile ago, so I don’t remember all the details, but I believe someone placed the bird gently on top of something or held it in their hand, while someone went to go get a dropper and a cup of sugar-water to see if we could revive the injured bird.  While this was going on, one of the girls, not more than 8, told us all about hummingbirds and explained that they sometimes get stunned and appear dead, when really they aren’t.  All the kids were looking at the bird, and the girl continued her impromptu lesson.  It was incredible how much information she knew.

Soon someone returned to the scene with a small dropper or tube and a container of sugar-water to supply the dropper so we could attempt to feed the ailing hummingbird little drops of sweetness in the hopes of reviving it.  Gently and slowly the dropper found its way to the hummingbird’s long beak.  The hummingbird’s beak was so tiny that it fit inside the dropper.  We made sure there were only a couple drops in the dropper so as not to cause further harm to our little friend.   The clock ticked and there was no activity.  Was it too late?  Was this tiny creature doomed?  We all hoped not, as it would have been difficult to explain the bird’s death to some of the younger children present.

It seemed like hours went by, but really it was only a number of minutes before we saw the hummingbird slowly open its eyes and respond to the sweet nectar by opening its tiny beak to drink the liquid.  It was as if we were all watching this awesome sight in slow motion.  We had to truly take our time so as not to give it too much water and overwhelm it.

Hummingbird - Infrared

Then, the miracle happened and it was sudden.  All at once, the bird fully awoke as if from a dream, quickly removed its beak from the dropper, fervently flapped its wings and flew off.  My husband had arrived earlier to witness this, so there were a number of adults present.  I think we all must have held our collective breaths because you could hear our exhaling.  The kids jumped up and down in excitement that they helped the hummingbird.

Mother Nature stopped by that day to give us all a once in a lifetime chance to take part in saving the life of one of her own, and thanks to an 8-year old girl, we all learned a little something about hummingbirds.

Images: jitz couperus, lyrandian, for the rock

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When I was a child, stars, flying and space fascinated me.  I don’t remember the exact year, but one night I dreamt I was on the field at my grammar school, and Jupiter covered the horizon while Mars glistened in the sky.  They were so close to our planet; it was the coolest dream.  I awoke the next morning and excitedly told my mom about it.  It was amazing.  The planets were so close I could almost touch them.  Then, I read in the Sunday pink section of the San Francisco Chronicle that Jupiter, Saturn and a partial lunar eclipse could be seen from a telescope at the Corte Madera Town Center that night.  I begged my mom to take us kids.  Was it a psychic dream or coincidence?  It doesn’t really matter.  That night I got to stay up late and gaze at the wonder of the heavens.  It was a dream come true.

Jupiter

I also remember in 1995, when the Hubble telescope took these amazing pictures of the birth of a star.  There were 3 Evaporating Gaseous Globules (EGGs) and it looked as if the stars were coming out of the illuminated, gassy columns.  These infant stars were located in the Eagle Nebula and supposedly the EGGs were several hundred trillion miles long.  Those photos blew me away.  I kept the newspaper showing the Hubble photos for many years thereafter.  To this day, it’s difficult to fully comprehend how vast several hundred trillion miles is, not to mention the stars were 6,500 light years away.

I could dedicate an entire blog to my love of space, writing about some of my favorite space movies: 2001: A Space Odyssey, Silent Running, Close Encounters of the Third Kind, Contact, and the recently released Gravity.  But I dedicate my blog to writing about parenting and adoption.  This is where the parenting part comes in.  As parents, we get to share our love of things with our children, whether it’s sports, books, arts and crafts, cooking, movies, any hobbies and the list goes on.  When a girlfriend of mine recently sent an email that some local astronomers were setting up their telescopes on the Chandler Bikeway so that children could look through them, I jumped at the chance to let The Littlest E stay up a little late and view the magnificence of the Moon and other planets visible.

moon

I did not know of the existence of an organization called The Sidewalk Astronomers.  The night we looked at the Moon, one astronomer informed me that they are a global organization in 200 countries, including Canada, Ireland, Russia and Brazil.  Our local group is the Burbank Sidewalk Astronomers and they are out on the Chandler Bikeway once a month with their telescopes providing free viewing.

The Littlest E was excited to have a late night (by his standards) and an evening playdate.   We talked a bit about what we were going to do, how to look through a telescope and what the Moon was going to look like.  While we were driving he said, “Mom, we’ve never done this before.”  I replied, “I know!  It’s going to be so much fun to be able to look at the Moon close up.”  We met up with our friends and walked to the location.  Sure enough there were several sidewalk astronomers with their telescopes pointed toward the Moon and Venus.

We were the first people to show up and the kids got to take a look through each telescope.  They had a blast playing with each other and running around, but The Littlest E kept going back to one telescope in particular and kept looking at the Moon.  The astronomer gave him bits of information about our Moon.  I think he went back to that telescope four times, couldn’t get enough of it.  I mentioned to this astronomer my childhood dream and viewing the planets the next day.  He said, “It was probably the Sidewalk Astronomers who set that up.”  Hmmm, could be, I thought.  We got to talk a bit more and he told me he’s a teacher and teaches astronomy for his elementary or middle school children.  He acknowledged that in the U.S. we don’t emphasize science and math enough.  I agreed.  It’s his hope that continuing to offer this service to kids might get them interested in studying astronomy and sciences, laying the foundation for a possible future in science.

Distant Objects Telescope

He just might be right.  The Littlest E loved his galactic experience.  If we can swing it, we’re going to make this a monthly thing.  My husband couldn’t go this past time, and I know he’d like to go.  It’s informative, community oriented and good plain fun.  I highly recommend seeing if there’s a Sidewalk Astronomer group in your neighborhood.

Images: Steve Hill, Bruce Fingerhood, tonynetone

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