Monday, December 7, 2009

Best father in the solar system

So you may know I'm a real science buff. The other night I went to see the great Dr. Freeman Dyson speak at the UO - although the room was full and I got stuck in the 'overflow room' watching via video. It was a great experience, but that's not what brings me here.

Theo likes to talk about science - sometimes just because it's a good way to distract me, I think, but sometimes just because it's fun. He also loves for me to read to him from my books. He'd love for me to read him the novels I read, but it's been a while since I read one which wasn't far too adult for him to hear at bedtime. But sometimes, when we run out of juvenile novels to read, I break out one of my non-fiction science books.

Tonight was one of those nights, and I picked up "1001 Things Everyone Should Know About Science" by James Trefil. I turned to the chapter on astronomy and started reading. The first entry of the chapter includes the sentence, "The sun, like a campfilre at the end of an evening, will someday stop burning and die."

"Dad!" Theo interrupted, "how will the sun die?"

"Well, when it runs out of things to burn, it will stop making light, and it will die."

"And it will be dark outside?"

"Well, it will be a really long time before the sun dies. And by then, all the people on Earth will be somewhere else."

"Will we get to take all our stuff, dad?"

I fumbled over the notion that we'd all be gone by then, but eventually settled on, "Well, maybe we can move the whole Earth!"

"How, Dad?"

"Maybe somebody will make a really big truck and just pull it away," suggested with a smile.

He got this sort of distant expression on his face for several long seconds. "Wow," he said, with a sense of awe in his voice that told me that he truly does have some kind of grasp about how big that truck would have to be.

"Do you want to build a truck that big when you grow up?" I asked, aiming to help alleviate any uncertainty he might have about the sun going dark.

"No," he said, sort of sullenly, "I won't."

"Well, I'm sure somebody will."

"Yeah!" he said, suddenly animated again. "You will, Dad!"

It's good to be Dad.

Meanwhile today when I got home, the moment I sat down to give the kids a hug, Lily pointed very urgently and conveyed the message that she'd like to be picked up. I lifted her towards the lightswitch, and she was so happy as she repeatedly demonstrated the new trick she'd learned today with Mom. She's so different from Theo, so pensive, so calculating to his impulsiveness. It's a nice change, and I'm glad I have the two of them to keep me on my toes.

No comments: