I have zero siblings and zero children of my own. The sum of my previous experience with kids included short term babysitting and a four year stint as the Teacher’s Assistant at a small preschool. So when my Aunt and Uncle asked my mom if I’d be interested in being a live-in nanny for four days I was very surprised. Of all the cousins in my very large family I’ve always felt that I’m the renegade. The cousin who is very likely at a concert, a bar, on some grand adventure, or at some alt venue. I’m not one to turn down a quest, though, and I’m always willing to help family.
My Aunt and Uncle have three kids (lets call them Rose, Ed and Marcel). These kids, like all kids really, are amazing. Rose is in third grade, studies piano and violin, loves math, and hates dresses. Ed (5th grade) is a huge Star Wars fan, studies flute and piano, swims competitively, and never leaves a mess. Marcel (7th grade) plays 2200 sports, enjoys video games, and has a brilliant sense of humor.
Time with the MurCerk children is a fast moving locomotive. The motion of the day would be constant if not for the brilliantly timed stops used mostly to pick someone up and drop them off somewhere else. Here is an example:
- 805am: drop kids at school.
- 315pm: Pick up Ed for his flute lesson, Rose so she can go to PetCo with us. Marcel will hang out at friends house because his baseball practice is cancelled (rain).
- 430pm: Homework while I heat up some chili. Learn that chili has to be cooked the Cincinnati way because chili with out noodles is gross.
- 545pm: Bring Rose and Ed to school to participate in the Learning Fair.
- 730pm: More homework, help Marcel study for biology test.
- 900pm: Begin the dreaded bedtime routine.
- 1030pm: Try not to pass out so you can enjoy peace and quite; realize that the MurCerks didn’t practice their instruments.
You can imagine how tired I was by the third afternoon (TGIF)! Rose, Ed, and I were sitting around the kitchen island enjoying our snack while quietly staring off into space. I was thinking about how wonderful it felt to have lasted this long. I also noted that the universe is filled with amazing opportunities to challenge ourselves, to push our potential. This reminded me of the TV show Cosmos: A Spacetime Odyssey and I suddenly remembered that Neil deGrasse Tyson (NGT) just talked about atoms. I broke the silence with one of the spooky facts I learned. “Hey! Did you guys know that our fingers never actually touch the table?”
“What,” Ed said?
“Yea! Our fingers are made up of tiny atoms. Just like everything else in the universe. Just like this table. Atoms are tiny! There are more atoms in your eyeball than there are stars in the Universe. The thing is, the atoms don’t want to touch. When we bring our fingers down to press against the table, the atoms of the table push against the atoms of our fingers. No matter how hard we press down, our skin never touches the table.”
Rose asked, “Then how do we feel the table?” Ed just looked at me with an expression of shock and confusion.
“Our skin has learned to recognize the different forces pushing back against us,” I surmised.
A few minutes later, we’d cleared the table and headed downstairs to watch SpongeBob. Rose said to me, “How do we move through the air?”
I swear to you that time stopped, at least for me. It hadn’t occurred to me that Rose was still processing what we’d talked about at the snack table. It was my turn to be stunned, to take a moment to bask in the amazing mind of a child. Had she taken the information from our conversation and applied it to other experiences?
“You mean because of the atoms?” I asked.
“Well, when we push against them they just move around us.”
“Lets not watch Spongebob. I want to show you this show that told me all about the atom.”
So we did. Rose was glued to the screen. Well, she was glued most of the time. She also asked a ton of questions. After my time with the MurCerk kids was done, I was sitting at home with my boyfriend watching the latest episode. Wouldn’t you know it, NGT continued the conversation about atoms. He said that the scientist who discovered the immense space within an atom was scared to get out of bed, for fear he would fall through the floor.
My eyes must have been the size of saucers. “Good God!” I thought. What if Rose is laying in her bed, still thinking about atoms and is worried about falling through the floor.