You have to hand it to Kathryn Gray. The 10-year-old girl became the youngest person in history to discover a supernova on Sunday, while I had to Google "supernova" this morning.
The last time I studied them in science class -- they're exploding stars, by the way -- I was probably just about Gray's age. But while the rest of the overbearing parents are waving a photo of Kathryn in front of their kids' faces as they rush them out to sign up for science club, I see this as a positive sign for tweens everywhere for a completely different reason.
Gray has to share her discovery with two other amateur astronomers: her dad Paul Gray and a guy named Dave Lane. Yes, at 10 years old, she still thinks hanging out with dad is cool! Fun even! Considering my daughter came home just weeks into kindergarten to inform me that her teacher knows much more than Mommy, this is just the bright light at the end of the tunnel that I need.
Everywhere we turn, there are warnings that our kids are growing up too fast. They dance to Beyonce at 4, go tanning at 14. And they try to shed their parents' influence like a snake ready for a new skin.
My 5-year-old's comments are simply a test of limits, but I realize a day hanging out on the couch watching Mamma Mia with me will soon be replaced by her begging to go to the mall with her friends and "Please drop me off in the parking lot, I can go in by myself." The fact is, at 10 if my dad said, "Let's go out and do something I'm really into," I probably would have said, "Eh, I've got a good book to read, can I just stay in my room and read it?" I distinctly recall reading my way through Hyannis Port, Massachusetts as my mom tried in vain to convince me that the Kennedy compound was more interesting than the latest addition to my Willo Davis Roberts collection (oh Mom, I'm sorry, but the girl had silver eyes, I had to find out why). I loved my parents, but by 10 I was already ready to have "time to myself."
But I'm a parent. On the outside, I want to encourage her independence. On the inside, I'm a neurotic mess trying to hang onto my baby. And Kathryn Gray has just given me hope -- not that my child will turn out to be a scientific genius (math, specifically building things, seems to be her strong suit), but that the inevitable can be delayed.
Paul Gray gave Kathryn the celestial middle name Aurora. It's clear he's been raising a little astronomer from the start. But by the grin on her face standing next to her dad's telescope, it's clear he hasn't just pushed, he's helped her find something she enjoys doing.
If we can all find our kids' passion, we can hold onto them just a little longer. If we can't get them interested in our stuff, get interested in theirs. I'm willing to try, how about you?
Image via YouTube