For those of you who don’t know Ted from our documentary – Beyond the Spectrum… he LOVES all things Space! Stargazing is something he has been doing for about 3 or 4 years now. Before that he just studied books and Astronomy magazines slowly teaching himself the arrangement of star patterns and which were actually planets. Of course, no one else in the family really has any clue what is what, when we gaze into the twinkling night sky. So over the years, Ted has schooled us in Astronomy 101. Don’t tell him, but really I think I can still only find the Big Dipper, or is it the Little Dipper? It’s not my thing to memorize what everything is; of course, I also don’t have to, when Ted is around to explain it all! I really just like to hear him getting all excited and telling the girls to look at different things he has set up in his telescope. I just look up amazed that we are still looking at the same sky as generations and generations of families and people before us… talk about making you feel small!!
Last Christmas Ted went on and on about wanting a new telescope – a Dobsonian style. Well, we ended up giving in when it was a Xmas, birthday, in lieu of an allowance, good homeschool year and anything else we could tack on. The thing is huge, 4 feet long and about 10” in diameter. But to see the look on Ted’s face when we went to the amazingly cool telescope shop to pick it up… worth every penny. Well, that is until EVERY clear night and he wants to star gaze from our bedroom balcony!! There has a been several nights when I have to set my alarm for some time in the middle of the night and get Ted out of bed to view some Celestial event (glad we homeschool). Lucky for Ted I often don’t sleep through the entire night so just have to readjust my internal clock… and I usually am up before the alarm anyway!!
Well, this year we were supposed to take Ted to this Star Festival about 1.5hrs away. It’s a whole group of astronomers and enthusiasts in a campsite watching the sky together. In the day they have lectures and workshops. Unfortunately, I had to go out of town at the last minute and so it just wasn’t going to work in the end. Ted was really disappointed, but quickly got on his computer searching for other Star groups… he found one a few weeks later and closer to our home.
The day arrived, Stef and Ted headed to meet up at the specified location; the new telescope safely packed in the car like another kid. Now here is the amazing part of this whole story. Ted is still an anxious kid, we work on it constantly and he is a lot better than he was years ago. However, when plans go awry or things get too frustrating with no apparent solution it gets harder and harder for Ted to keep his emotions in check… it can turn “fight or flight” quickly. Again, his outbursts are minimal compared to when he was little, sometimes I think I have less control over my emotions then he does… but I’m juggling too many mommy things, I know, I know… still no excuse!!
So imagine a big night sky and a few hundred spectators with a handful of telescopes. Then picture a giant 4ft tube mounted on a stand with a boy not much taller (Ted is yet to hit a major growth spurt, often mistaken for someone a couple of years younger than he really is). This young astronomer moves quickly and with intent… focusing first on the moon, then on Jupiter, then his favourite… Saturn. His energy and enthusiasm creates a small crowd. He offers to let one person view into his most prized possession…. “Would you like to take a look?” As the stranger peers into the lens and then… gasps… acknowledging to the others that the young child had indeed found a faraway planet… a line quickly formed behind. At one point 30 adults stood waiting and waiting to get a chance to see a closer glimpse of the night sky! Each time Ted asks “what would you like to see? The moon, a planet?” As they make their selection, young Ted whips into action and lines up his small scope and then hones in on the target wheeling his telescope around fine tuning with the knobs with a gentle touch.
Now, this is where the story gets interesting. EVERY… and Stef confirmed this… EVERY time Ted got his telescope lined up for the person in line, stepping back momentarily to allow them a peek… they automatically grabbed the viewfinder and touched the barrel of the scope to sort of balance themselves. What did this simple action do? Of course, it totally knocked the telescope out of alignment! But Ted, in the kindest voice would say “oh, please don’t touch the telescope” and then quickly readjust and find the target once again.
Stef said ALL he heard for 2 hours was… “What would you like to see?” followed shortly thereafter by “oh, please don’t touch the telescope”. So the awesome part was that the whole evening he NEVER lost his cool or his patience. He calmly would just re-adjust and allow the stranger to take a second look!
Now the trick will be to get Ted to have the same amount of patience and understanding with his little sisters!!!
It’s these little things like hearing about his amazing “outburst free” Star night and getting to hang out with some “peers” and enjoy an experience together… that I know we are doing the right things with Ted!