I was pretty excited about the opportunity to share the eclipse with Jet. Being a grandparent, however, caution is ever my watchword. I didn’t want to take the chance that a 4-year-old might remove her viewing glasses to look at the sun, so I prepared cereal boxes according to NASA’s directions the previous night.
After breakfast, Jet and I looked at a video of the solar system and talked about how the planets circle the sun and the moon circles the earth. Next, we watched a second video that explained what happens during an eclipse. At my suggestion, Jet seemed eager to make her own eclipse with a flashlight, tennis ball and kickball. We took turns shining the flashlight on the larger ball and watching the shadow made by the tennis ball.
“Do you think that you can tell mommy and daddy how an eclipse works?”
“Yes! I can do it!”
“Great! We are ready to see the eclipse so let’s take our walk now before it get too hot.”
Jet has learned that Grandma does not like to walk in the heat of the day. She rarely complains about walking before play. Today, however she had a bone to pick about Grandma’s abundance of caution: “Why do I have to wait for you at the driveways Grandma?”
“Because you are so little that the driver might not see you. I’m big enough that they will probably see me. I just don’t want you to be run over by a car!”
“Can’t they just look on their screen?”
“Not all cars have a screen to see behind them like your mommy does! I just want you to be safe!”
Back at home, Jet played until we ate a late lunch. We looked at the boxes to view the eclipse and I gave her a long serious explanation about why she couldn’t look directly at the sun. At the conclusion, Jet looked at me solemnly, “But why?”
“Okay, let me be clear. You can’t look up at the sky while we are out side. Not at all.”
Jet walked into the living room with her head down. “What are you doing?”
“I’m not looking at the sky.”
Ah. “Jet, the sky is outside! You can look up inside! When we go outside, just keep your head down.”
For the next hour and a half, we went out with our boxes every 15 minutes. Jet was able to see the image in her box before I found mine. Each time we came inside, we watched the image live on TV. Jet began to tire after the first hour so we took a break to read some books.
We went outside for the last time during the peak of the eclipse. The decrease in light was obvious, but the view of the sun was not that impressive. I tried to take a photo with my phone over my shoulder, but without a filter, the view was even less impressive. Still, Jet remained interested almost until the end.
“Grandma? I want to go inside now. My neck hurts from looking down all the time!”
“Oh, yes, sweetie I think we’ve seen enough.” Jet was more than ready for her nap. She ran to take her customary bathroom break.” Suddenly, a wail broke the quiet of the afternoon and I ran to the bathroom. The house was relatively dark and the bathroom especially dim. Jet had not noticed that that potty seat was missing and had fallen in the bowl.
“It got my butt wet!” she cried.
I didn’t understand. “What got wet? Your pants?”
“My BUTT! My butt is wet!”
Papa comforted her that it was clean water and wouldn’t hurt her while I washed off her bottom to ease her mind. She got in bed and was asleep in minutes. I might be wrong, but I have a feeling that when she remembers the events of the day, the moment when she fell in the toilet will be the one that sticks in her mind.