Apr 5 2011
Cayden is a 39 pound, blond-haired, blue-eyed question. Everything that comes from his mouth is either a dinosaur factoid…. “Allosaurus lived in the Jurassic period, but Coelophysis lived in the Triassic period…”
….or a question. Sometimes he’s barely awake in the morning and, muffled by covers, he mumbles:
“What if I could build a snowman in a minute?“
Questions like the this one, or his burp-busting query, are easy. I can tell the truth or invent a crazy, mythical reply.
It’s the real questions that stump me.
“What’s the smallest planet?“
“How far are we from the sun?“
“Why is the earth round?“
These are Dad questions.
Growing up, my father was a real science geek. He soaked up astronomy. He wrote a story entitled “Mars or Bust,” won science fairs, and later bet my grandfather, in 1960, that man would walk on the moon before the decade was up. (My grandfather was dubious; Dad won with five months to spare.)
Over the years my father read up on physics, history, international relations, mechanics, law — and everything in between. By the time I appeared on the scene, he could field any question I lobbed his way. I’m not saying he was a genius. But in the pre-internet world, he was a living, breathing Wikipedia. And in elementary and junior high, he saved me numerous trips to the encyclopedia stack.
Now when Cayden peppers me with questions, I’m wistful for Dad. And sad that with dementia, he’s missing out. He would have loved Cayden’s questions and his scientific thirst.
Last weekend while Martin and Hadley were out, I strapped Brynn in the baby backpack, and with Cayden, walked up the drive. I thought he’d drag his feet but Cayden practically sprinted to the neighbors’ house. Weighted by a bobble-headed baby, I couldn’t keep up, but he waited for me hillside, beside the pool. It was brisk and windy, but the sun blazed a field of green to our farm. From a distance, the barn, silo and house looked storybook perfect.
We paused on the hill and I showed Cayden north, south, east and west, and pointed out the weather front’s typical north-west path. Warned him about the freak, but violent storms from the south. Taught him how to test the direction of the wind. Noted the hawks circling overhead and the deer trails into the woods.
It wasn’t much. No great lessons in physics or astronomy.
Still, Dad would have liked it.