A glimpse of the moon

Yesterday was unseasonably warm here, and I let my daughter loose outside to discover the world. I think discovering the world is how I would describe how 1.5 year olds spend 95% of her time. While we outside playing, she spotted the moon in the sky. During the day. She pointed it out to me about three times and excitedly exclaimed, “moon!” as if she had just seen a long lost friend.

I have to admit that for a moment I was a bit upset. You see, she doesn’t quite understand the concept of “sun” yet, and she certainly can’t say it. When we read books (which she does with increasing excitement with each passing day), she points at the sun in the book illustrations and sometimes says moon or some yet-to-be-recognized mumble. My typical response is to say, “no, that’s the sun. The sun comes out during the day; the moon comes out at night.”

When she pointed to the moon yesterday I wished I could have hid it in the sky. How dare it confuse my little one who still needs to learn the difference between sun and moon! In that moment I realized a way in which my parenting wasn’t lining up to who I really want my daughter to become.

She was perfectly comfortable seeing the moon and the sun during the day. My attempt to categorize the moon as something in the night and the sun is something in the day unnecessarily (and inaccurately) simplified the lunar/solar relationship, and our interaction reminded me that she doesn’t always need the world simplified for her. She was delighting in a world of “both/and,” as the postmodernists say. My 18 month old might as well have said, “Geez Mom, that either/or dichotomy is so modernist.”

So on we go to another day, where my 1.5 year old will continue to teach me to embrace the simultaneous relationship and nature of things around us, to find joy in discovering the unexpected, and to allow her to see the complexities of our world on her own terms.

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