“Wha’da?” A fish. “Wha’da?” A Wheel. “Wha’da?” Dirt. As my soon-to-be two year old explores the world “Wha’da?” has been his refrain. His language is rudimentary but his fascination is sincere. Every object in the world is there to be studied and explored. Buttons to be pushed, light switches to be flicked, balls to be thrown. He stands (and runs and twirls) in awe of the world around him and glories in it. And I stand back and watch answering his refrain with verses of clarification.
And then one night, past our bedtime, hand in hand we walk through the church parking lot. It is cold and winter and the wind rushes past my ears reminding me of my forgotten hat. As we walk, crunching on snow and ice, I look down concentrating on not slipping and falling. We shuffle along, at toddler pace, heading to the car.
And then he stops and straining with undisguised glee points with his free hand to the sky.
So I stop to, in the parking lot, in the cold and turn my head from the ice covered asphalt to the sky above. That, sweet child, is the moon.
“Ooooon,” he whispers in delight taking in the shine above. And I stop too, transfixed by the light of the moon in my son’s eyes, and I marvel at how easy it is to miss the beauty around us.
And then the moment passes and we rush to the car to get warm. But as I strap him in I give him an extra kiss for the reminder that the world is bigger and smaller than I always see.
That night after bedtime kisses and bedtime prayers, I remember the moon. I see my 8 year old self studying it intently through her homemade telescope, counting its craters. I remember the late-night camping adventure in the backyard with my mother waiting for a lunar eclipse. I almost fell asleep in sleeping bag waiting for the moon to be transformed, dozing in and out under the stars until my mother whispered, “It’s starting.”
And the shadow crossed over the face of the moon, slowly but with purpose and I watched, craning my neck as if to take in more of the sky than was possible. And for an instant the sky was dark, and the world was quiet as we moved through space together, except for the crickets who didn’t seem to know what powerful things were happening to the planet and in the mind of a 8 year old girl.
As the moon was reborn from behind the shadow, so too she awoke to the largeness and smallness of the world. The earth, and moon, and all stars were dancing together and she wanted to dance too. And mother and daughter laughed their way inside, humming the Star Trek theme, giggling in the giddiness of sharing that moment with the moon: a geek coming into her own.
I’m brought back to earth by a whimper in the nursery. As I quiet him back to sleep I look down at my own littlest geek, from a proud lineage of geeks. As he settles back into his dreams, I look out his window to gaze at the moon and wonder how my whole universe could fit so easily in a crib.