The moment my nieces come home, the first thing they ask for is noodles. This is followed by the request to apply nail polish for them – Both hands and feet. I am the cool aunt who grants all their wishes. This hullaballoo ends with a game that we all play together.
But this time, when they came home, I had the packs of Colgate ready and I showed it to them. If you are wondering if I am crazy, the Colgate packs have space figures drawn on their insides which you could cut out and make figurines from them. I had cut them out and kept them ready since I didn’t think they will be able to manage it. Kids and scissors really don’t go well.
“What is that?”, the elder one who is 9 years old asked me.
“You tell me what that is.” I told her.
“This is Sun, this is a girl and a guy. Why are they holding helmets?”
“They are part of the spacesuit – Astronaut’s uniform.”
I told her about space stations and how astronauts went to outer space to know what lay beyond the earth far into the universe.
“Aliens!”, she exclaimed.
“Hey! So you know a lot more than I gave you credit for. In that case, today’s game is going to be a role play. You and the baby are going to outer space. You can use these props to help you.”
“Okay. Baby come on. Let us play a game. You listen to me or else you will get lost in the outer space.”, she is always the grown up with her baby sister.
“Okay but can we take Cookie with us?”, the little one enquired.
“Dogs can’t go to outer space. Can they?” the second part was aimed at me.
“If you must take her, you can. It won’t be a problem.”
“Now, you are at the space station and all those scientists you see here are preparing the spaceship that will take you to outer space. And there is your rocket!”
“So we are going to find aliens in the outer space.”
Her story went like this:
As we reached the outer space, there were lots of stars around. It looked so beautiful. We took a tour around the space and came across a dizzy Venus. I think he is exhausted from going in the wrong direction. (I had told her that Venus went around the Sun in the opposite direction with respect to all the other planets). Mars waved at us as we passed by and then we passed by Jupiter.
“How was Jupiter?”
“Huuuuuuge!”, she said while the little one joined along with her.
“And then what happened?”
“Saturn looked nice with those rings. But did you know that the rings were made of dust?”
“We decided to go back and explore any one of the planets and on the way, a comet came flying. He was a cheery guy and we decided to conduct a race. We whooooshed and he whooooshed and finally we gave up.”
“Why is that?”
“He has been whooshing all his life. He is perfect at it. Usha Ma’am told us Practice makes us perfect. I was reminded of that.”
I had to control my laughter at how she related this to the quote.
“Yeah. You can practice well and race with the comet next time.”
“I think so too. So, we had just landed in Mars when we spotted another spaceship.”
“You mean UFO?”
“Why do they call it a UFO? You know that it is a spaceship. So you have actually identified it. It ceases to be unidentified right?”
“Right. But when such things fly over the Earth and people just have a glimpse at it, they aren’t sure they have identified it as a spaceship. Hence they call it a UFO.”
“Oh that is why!”
“Then I had taught baby everything about controlling our spaceship and I decided to confront the alien all by myself. I screamed, ‘I’ll shoot you if you harm us!’ for which the alien just stood watching me. I inched closer and he said, “I heard that people from Earth had come to visit and I just came over to meet you. I also came here to explore the Universe just like you.”
“How did you get to know about us?” I asked
“From the friendly comet who passed by. Can we be friends?”
I said okay and then we spoke for a long time. He told us about his planet and we told about ours and when it was time to leave, we bid goodbye.
“What did he tell about his planet?”
“I can’t tell you that. It is top secret. Enough of this. Let us play something else?”
Saying so, she picked up all the space figures and put them inside a cover.
That night, my cousin called me and told me she was shocked listening to my niece’s stories about space, spaceships, planets and aliens.And that they were insisting on coming home more often. It was a revelation to me too about how children could learn so much through stories and how we could interact better with them when both of us have stories to narrate. 🙂