The other night my next door neighbor’s 8 year old niece, Nikki, wanted to come over and look through my telescope at the moon. I got it out, set it up and got her a chair to stand on so she could see the moon up close. She thought that was coolest thing she had ever seen. I located Mars and Venus and she got to look at them too. I told her to come back over when it was winter so she could see Saturn and all of it’s rings. She was just amazed. I sat down in a chair in the backyard and when Nikki and my daughter, were done scoping out the sky they brought chairs over by me and sat down chattering all about the stars in the sky and all the planets that would probably be around those stars. There is almost a 5 year age difference between the two girls, but they both contemplated and chattered on about the Universe as if they were scientists on the verge of a discovery.
Something crossed my mind, while they were talking, and I became lost in my thoughts of when I was a child. My Great Grandfather taught me all about the planets and the Universe and the reasons for Nature on Earth. Then I remembered when I was 8 and in the third grade we had to do a class project in science. My third grade teacher always partnered a boy with a girl when we did these projects. We always had more boys in class than girls and I think my teacher thought girls were stupid when it came to science.
I was partnered with a chubby boy named Peter, who wanted me do all the glue work on our project because his fingers were to fat to hold small objects and glue them together. Peter and I got into a loud verbal argument when I told him Elmer’s glue does not hold Styrofoam together. I also told him we just needed to put Styrofoam in the bottom of the box and use toothpicks to hold the Sun and planets up, since they were also Styrofoam. The teacher broke up the argument, but agreed with me. The project went on and Peter became so anal retentive at the age of 8, over painting the round balls of styrofoam with temper paint to the exact color of the planets. I took the planets away from him and gave him the box to paint dark blue and told him to paint white stars in the background. As he sat there and dotted billions of white stars with his chubby fat fingers and his double chin breathing heavily through his congested nose, I thought he looked and sounded more like Godzilla.
Suddenly, I was pulled away from this childhood memory, when Nikki tapped me on the arm and asked me where I thought all the stars came from. In my sarcastic and snappy comeback tone I told her that the Christians believe that God created the Heavens and the Earth and the Celts believed only a woman could create such awesome beauty, but……. I was sure it was a kid named Peter that I was in third grade with who was sitting above this Universe breathing heavily with his chubby fingers and stuffed up nose, dotting in stars with temper paint.
Nikki hangs out at my house too much, because at 8, she has those sarcastic and snappy comebacks wired. She just laughed, cause she knows me too well, and said to my daughter “Peter was probably a dinosaur in another life, but with all the dust storms we have I hope he blows his nose before he starts sneezing and it drips on this planet cause that would be just gross.” I fell out of my chair laughing. She had no way of knowing that I ever thought he reminded me of Godzilla. Peter probably works for NASA now.
If you ever want to know what is going on in this Universe, just ask an 8 year old doing a science project on the planets.