A little confusion over which hemisphere we live in saw me getting the kids all excited about seeing a shooting star spectacle from the driveway. Turns out the Perseids is as hard to see from Queensland as the Southern Cross is from Alaska.
Still, this didn't stop Tracey from setting the alarm for 2am last night and promptly kicking me out of bed when it went off.
I stumbled my way outside and looked up. Nothing. Literally, nothing. Cloud cover was such I'm sure it resembled the planetside view of the sky from Douglas Adam's planet Kricket (obscure reference, I know - but well worth researching if you've never heard of him. Although I should warn you the planet Kricket doesn't really come up until the third book in the five book trilogy).
Anywho, there were no stars, let alone stars packing heat, so I crawled back to bed. Crawled, because I have no night vision and cracked my shin on Miss0's rocker on my way through the dining room.
I'd promised the kids I'd wake them if there was anything at all to see, so they were disappointed this morning. That is to say they grumbled at me a lot.
So tonight, after dinner, baths and teeth, we turned off all the lights and walked up to the driveway and stood looking at the sky.
Actually, that's such an oversimplification of what happened tonight it must count as a big fat lie. We eventually got too the drive, it's true, but not without a fair bit of snapping, whinging and some tears.
Do you know, despite my lack of night vision it has never occurred to me my children might be lumbered with the same curse. They are.
"Daaaaaaad!" screamed Master7. "Where are you? I can't see!"
As the crow flies I was perhaps three meters in front of him.
Miss5 was similarly blind. "Pick me up," she demanded, facing somewhere to my right with her hands outstretched.
Eventually, with Miss2 and Miss5 in my arms, and Master7 and Miss8 each clutching a handful of my pullover, we walked up the five steps towards the drive. I'd cleverly sent our dog, Jazz, ahead. She's a Samoyed and, when not spending time under our house, perfectly white, meaning I could aim for the white blur.
Finally, we looked up.
The sky was filled with twinkling pinpricks of white. It was beautiful.
"You know what stars are?" I asked my kids. I believe in always taking an opportunity to show how much smarter I am than their mother. By 'always' I of course mean 'whenever she's not within earshot'.
"Fairy lights," said Miss5.
"No, they're stars. Although they do look like fairy lights, don't they? But they're definitely stars. So what are stars?"
"Shooting stars," said Miss5.
"No, shooting stars aren't actually stars," I told her. Already I could feel the conversation slipping away. "They're often just dust or rocks. Anyone else? I'll give you a hint. How far away are they, do you think?"
"Well, they're closer than last night," said Master7.
"What do you mean?" I was lost.
"Last night we couldn't see them because they were above the clouds," he explained.
"No they're not...well, yes they were above the clouds last night. That bits true. But they're the same distance tonight, only there are no clouds." It was about this time I started to really crave a beer. "Come on, guys. I thought we'd be back inside by now. The Big Bang Theory starts soon. Look, even though they look really small, they're really, really big. You saw one today! Now what do you think a star is?"
Suddenly Miss8 was very excited. She knew the answer.
"A tooth! A tooth!" she shouted. Oh dear.
Well I can think of one book which needs to be donated to Lifeline before it ruins the education of all my kids - that stupid Tooth Fairy book which tells the kids their baby teeth are used to make stars instead of landfill. Although Master7 just lost his tooth, so I can see where the confusions come in.
"How'd that go?" Tracey asked me after the kids and I had shuffled our way back into the house. It took a moment before I realized she was laughing at me. "You teach them some star smarts, Mr Brainiac?" Looks like the stairs weren't the only thing I couldn't see - Tracey was out there somewhere in the shadows as well.
"Bugger shooting stars," I said to my darling wife as I reached for a beer. "Shoot me."
My other recent blind as a bat blog post
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