The Wisdom of Children 4
Driving home from nursery on a bright early Spring evening, slightly blinded by the setting sun, the familiar excitable voice pipes up from the back of the car.
“Look at that beautiful sun Mummy! The sky is orange! I love the suns.”
“It is beautiful isn’t it? There is only one sun though, Little Man.”
“What do you mean?”
Oh dear. Fortunately I’ve watched enough Stargazing Live to at least be able to explain basic astronomy.
“Well, the sun is up in space, and the planet we live on, Earth, spins around and around it. And the moon spins around the Earth.”
“But the sun isn’t in space! The moon is in space but the sun isn’t in space.”
Joe was growing quite indignant at this point, as if I was somehow trying to mislead him.
“What do you mean, Little Man?”
“The sun is there in the morning. It’s not in space. It’s night-time in space.”
“Aaaah….” The penny dropped.
“Do you mean that the sun can’t be in space because it’s dark in space?”
“Yes! The sun is there in the daytime, not night-time Mummy.”
I hadn’t watched enough Stargazing to explain away his perfectly sound three-year-old’s argument.
Yet again I came away from a conversation with my son feeling like the stupid one.
I wonder if Professor Brian Cox’s mum ever felt like that.