Posted by: Mark Nielsen | July 13, 2007

Big Dippers & Small Minds

Okay, so the Massachusetts trip is going a bit better now. I’m also making a conscious choice not to wallow in self-pity anymore. (We’ll see how long *that* commitment lasts.)

I’m on the balcony outside our condo now, overlooking Plymouth Bay. It’s the same basic view Myles Standish enjoyed 400 years ago–except he wouldn’t have had the distant lighthouse blink every nine seconds, nor the sparkle-line effect of a light on a small yacht moored 150 yards out.

One thing Myles would have seen is the Big Dipper. Sue and Graham just went in, but before they did, Graham gave us the “quote of the day”. When Sue pointed out the constellation (yes, I *know* it’s only part of a constellation, …now shut up, astro-geek), she asked if he knew what it was. “Yes,” he said indignantly, “it’s a big spoon that doesn’t look like a real spoon.”

It’s been that kind of week here in Massachusetts: few things met our high expectations, but we’ve tried to appreciate them anyway.

In Cambridge, for example, our hotel was near the Boston Science Museum. So we took Graham to his second ever planetarium show (the first: St. Louis….very good). He’s quite into stars and the solar system. I’m not sure if I’m prouder of him for that, or for not being a karate-chopping superhero-worshipper like many of his preschool peers. He doesn’t know about the Power Rangers yet, and I plan to keep it that way.

Not that there isn’t a need for fantasy, science fiction and comic book simplicity in his life. My main beef with the Puritans (like much modern fundamentalism) was their lack of imagination or humor. Sci-fi is THE modern mythology (sorry, Harry Potter fans…), which is why I let Graham watch part of Phantom Menace and Attack of the Clones on cable this week. I may think that Anakin the Wunderkind winning a pod race (or a war–ha!) is utterly ludicrous, but it’s still compelling to a kid, and mostly harmless.

Plus, some myths make real history possible. For example, the New World wasn’t really all it was cracked up to be for the Pilgrims when they got here, now was it? Yet here we are… still hoping.


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