We took Evi to the Hazy Center this weekend. It’s an extension of the national Air & Space Museum in DC.
She was immediately thrilled. She wore her space shirt, asked for a special hairdo, and was full of energy all the way to the museum. This kid loves some museum time, and the prospect of anything space related had her amped up.
When we got out of the car, she realized this, THIS! was the museum pictured in one of her books where a kid and his pet fly (no, really) go to learn about space. “Mom,” she says, nearly breathless. “This is where Fly Guy learns about Spaze!” He’s a fly, so he buzzes when he talks, so space=spaze. She hit the ground running and went nonstop for five hours. We only left because they closed the museum.
While she found the planes interesting and exciting, and she especially enjoyed walked on the different walkway levels to get different views, she was really just biding her time for the Space Hanger.
There it was. SPACE! And spacesuits, and telescopes! Moon rovers, Mars landers, and THE SPACE SHUTTLE DISCOVERY! I thought she might explode. She ran or skipped everywhere, constantly exclaiming that THIS was the Best. Day. EVERRRR!!!! I’ve never seen her so thrilled. She wanted to look at everything. And then we found the SpaceLab module. She explored the inside of it thanks to a computer screen and a virtual tour. She spent a good ten minutes looking at the inside of a relatively small space.
She declared then and there, and not for the first time, that she would be an astronaut. She’d walk on the moon and be a scientist in her spare time. We caved and bought her an expensive spacesuit from the gift shop because her excitement was contagious, and because I had a similar jacket as a kid that I was OBSESSED with and couldn’t help it. Plus…
Right? It was just too cute. She then proceeded to give her father and I important jobs and astronaut nicknames as we were, of course, her trusted crew. I feel pretty honored to be included, since not only does she pilot the ship, she also built it. “Well, not this one,” she clarifies, “but I will build my own ship at MIT.” She asked once what the best college for math and science was, and now she’s hellbent on attending MIT.
So now I’m Chief Science Officer and Aaron is Chief Robotics Officer. She nicknamed us Sci and Robo, and proceeded to give us detailed instructions on operating the robot arm, conducting experiments on “what is air?” and generally being a good crew, which included holding both of her hands as we walked back to the car.
She may never take that suit off.
So guess what? This isn’t actually a post about Evi. Well, obviously it is, but in the car on the way home, watching her fight off sleep as her endless energy finally waned, I remembered something. Something big.
That blissful little girl, caught up on a wave of wonder and joy? That little mind, amazed at the world around her, ready to take it all in? That precious innocence, that love of learning, that awe at all that the world has to teach her? I used to be that little girl. Big moment? I still am.
I am still that little girl too. I still have endless capacity for wonder and joy, when I stop and listen. It’s like Karen’s mirror exercise. As I watched my incredible daughter just soaking up everything, doing yoga in the observation tower, skipping down the halls, and giggling at her pink cowboy boots with the spacesuit (we assured her that would be a-okay with most astronauts), I realized I don’t treat myself like that little girl anymore. At some point in this growing up process, I stopped paying attention to her. I stopped making room for that innocence, that wonder. I think I’d started to believe it was gone, that growing up meant I’d lost that innocence somewhere along the way, dropped it by the roadside of this journey to “adult.”
I don’t believe that anymore, and I have my daughter to thank for it. By watching her take in the world around her, I catch glimpses of the way the world seemed to me at the same age, and in doing that I begin to reconnect with the excited, awestruck, eager little girl I still am.
So what does that mean? I’m still not sure. It means I’m being mindful of joy. It means I’m making room for wonder. It means I’m seeking out ways to learn new things, many of them fueled by Evi’s questions about life, the Universe, and everything. It means I’m allowing myself to dream, to get excited about tiny things, to wear pigtails and like teenager television without apology, to wear sparkly shoes because they make me giggle just like those pink cowboy boots.
Join me? Make some room for joy in your life. Jump on board for 100 Happy Days, one hundred tiny chances to acknowledge wonder. Or blog about something, something you told yourself was insignificant even though it made you smile. Give yourself five minutes of skipping down the hallway. Just once today, make a choice that fills you with that awestruck wonder. Discover something new. Do yoga in public. And when you do one of these things, or something else you create, come back and tell me about it. Evi would love to hear.