Monday morning, I staggered downstairs after my Patient Husband had gone to work and found Kiddos 1, 2 and 3 already awake. As I made breakfast, Kiddo#1 told me, “My plan worked!”
“I set my watch alarm for five-thirty!” He beamed. “And then I went outside and set up my telescope.”
Kiddo#2 said, “I went out with him.”
Kiddo#1 continued, “And then I looked at the sky because in the morning you can have a special treat! The winter sky…in autumn!”
To me it sounds as if he’s quoting something, someone, and maybe he is. Regardless, the logic is that because the Earth rotates, if you wait until just before sunrise, you’re seeing the sky that will be the just-after-sunset sky three months from now. Sounds good, right?
Kind of. I said, “Did your father know you were doing this?”
He said, “No, he’d already gone to work. We saw the Pleiades, M-45, and M-42, also known as the Great Orion Nebula.”
I spent the day unsure whether I ought to be angry or proud. He’d clearly planned this for a while, so he could at least have told me about it. But then again, he had kind of told me about it a long time ago. Even earlier than that, I had at one point told him to go ahead and look at the moon in the mornings. I just didn’t know he was going to do it then, on a day off from school, nor that he’d do it when his father wasn’t home.
It’s not as if he’s sneaking off to drink with his school friends. But he took his sister outside with him in the dark, and we do live in a place where people have seen coyotes and other not-nice animals.
That night I learned he had, in fact, told his father before he’d gone to work, and that my Patient Husband simply hadn’t known about it in advance; by the time Kiddo#1 had gone outside, my Patient Husband had known and approved. But it still troubled me that they were outside on the frigid lawn, gazing at two-million-year-old light, while I and the younger two were still warm in bed.
I think that you should be proud of Kiddo #1. First of all because he achieved a goal. Simple as it might seem, he wanted to see the early morning sky…and he did so. He developed a strategy, thought about all the steps he needed to take, worked them out and executed the plan. If he ever wants a job as a project manager with my company, he has it! Secondly, as you mentioned, the goal was not drinking with his friends, or stealing the car keys and going for a ride. There are parents who would give their eye teeth to have their kids actually looking UP rather than staring at cell phones to text their friends. Lastly, he gave his sister a big treat, something they can talk about for years to come. “Remember the early morning when we looked at the stars and we froze our tootsies off…..” Coyotes are a little threat when stacked against the magic that happened early in the morning.
I’d opt for proud. Coyotes are overrated.