|The "Super blood moon" of 2015|
I have found that saying things like "You need sleep to live" and "If you would just cooperate, everyone would be happy and the world would be a better place" are NOT, ultimately, helpful.
Sean told me he didn't want to make any more decisions that night and I said, "Not a problem. I have a plan, and I will drive. Just help me get the kids in the car."
Walter was wearing one of my old t-shirts for a jammie, and threw on a pair of slip on shoes. Sean carried shoe-less Sally out into the night. "It's dark. It's late." she said. I filled two sippy cups with ice water. We stood in the driveway for a minute. The view of the moon was pretty good there, but I thought viewing from the van would be better for mosquito avoidance. That, and there's something special about driving out into the night to go watch the moon.
Really, there's something special about being up late and looking up at the sky together. Walter immediately thought of fireworks. Sean helped us find a great spot to park not too far from the house but in a nice dark patch of clear sky ... there were a couple other moon viewers (lunatics, if you will) out there, too. Sean brought Walter up into the front seat to sit on his lap. I squeezed in to the space between Sally's seat at the door, where we casually held hands. We listened to classical music on the radio and watched the shadow on the moon get bigger and bigger.
We talked as we watched, an almost constant stream of Sally and Walter commentary on the situation. Sally was quite pleased when we affirmed her observation: "That's MY shadow on the moon!" Well, yes, in a way, it is. The rest of the night, she referred to it as "Sally's shadow." Walter careened between rather brilliantly correct observations, "You can't see the planet earth, but you can see its shadow on the moon" to observations we weren't sure what do with "The planet earth is above the sidewalk, now" to the downright poetic "The stars are shining on the road!" to the unintentionally earth-centric "I don't like it when you call earth "a planet." You should always say, "THE PLANET EARTH!"
I think Walter and I are a lot alike. We fall in love not just with an event, but with all the sensory input and everything else surrounding the event. So, the lunar eclipse itself was quite wonderful, yes. But for Walter, it was also a night to celebrate the classical music on the radio ("that's good, because I'm learning violin") my choice of beverage for them ("cold ice water, my favorite!") and his spot on Daddy's lap ("I really like this seat.") All in all, the excursion received Walter's highest praise: "That was a good choice."
I don't think I realized how difficult the choices of parenting would be. I think the hardest ones are the choices we make when we don't feel like we have a choice: when one of the kids is doing something dangerous and we have to raise our voices or pick them up to get them to stop; when we're running late and we can't gently coax them into putting their shoes on anymore ... we just have to do it for them, muttering unhelpful things about the fleeting nature of time and the possibility of greater happiness through independent shoe putting-on.
That said, the choice to take my 2-year-old, who has a cold, and cold-induced-asthma, and my almost 4-year-old, who is testing the limits of every adult he knows and needs every minute of sleep we can get him, out into the night after their bedtime to see a lunar eclipse they probably won't remember ... that was a pretty easy choice. We sat in the dark together, holding onto each other with that easy, comfortable grip of people who love each other without question. We listened to the violins and looked up at the sky. "The next time this happens," Sean said to Walter, "You will be the age that Mama and Daddy are, now."** "And if you have kids," I said, "You can bring them out after their bedtime to watch the moon." "Yes!" said Walter excitedly. "Let's do that right now!"
**This turns out to be in error ... the last #superbloodmoon was 30 years ago, but the next one will be 18 years from now.