A resource to inspire, inform and empower parents.

What Does a Playground and the Moon Have in Common?

On July 20, 1969, four days after blasting off from the only planet known to have life, Neil Armstrong flew a Lunar Excursion Module (LEM) to the surface of the moon. Buzz Aldrin sat next to him secretly sweating out the final seconds while Neil found the perfect spot to land humans on another world for the first time. Neil sat the LEM gently down on the dusty surface and billions of people breathed a sigh of relief and heart-pounding excitement at the same time.


Everyone knows what happened next. Everyone can recite the historic words that Neil Armstrong’s uttered that day, but not many people know what happened before they exited that LEM. When Neil and Buzz were settled on the moon and they confirmed that they were not going to sink into the moon’s surface, they were scheduled… for a nap. Yep. The official flight plan written by the smartest minds on planet Earth had Neil and Buzz’s first order of business on another celestial body to take a nap.

Neil and Buzz were active participants in the writing of this flight plan. Astronauts mean nothing but serious business and I have no doubt in my mind that they thought after a 4-day trip and a treacherous journey to the surface of the moon that in order to keep their brain on the ball that they would need some rest. But in the midst of this historic event they kindly declined this siesta.

I brought my son, Jack, to the playground for a picnic one day. I stuffed a bag with sandwiches and snacks. I told him we would go to the playground, eat our lunch together and then play. In that order. I was hungry.

I was so hungry that I was getting bit agitated at him for taking so long to get out the door. The hole in my stomach grew deeper and I slowly turned into Hangry Bitch Mom.

We got to the playground and I said it was time to eat. He had previously agreed to this plan. He told me that he was in agreement with us eating first! But in true toddler form he threw out our plan and ran to the playground equipment.

Abby Theuring, The Badass Breastfeeder's son.

“Jack! Come over here and eat! It’s time for lunch. We’ll play when we are done.” It was like he was possessed by this playground equipment. What’s the big deal? We are here all the time. And it’s just playground equipment! Who cares?!

And that’s when I remember those astronauts. And when I remembered that in order to understand Jack I have to look at things from his perspective. I could have continued to battle with him, but it would not have solved anything. He is 3.5 years old. He is not capable of calming and stifling all of that excitement for life. And why would I want him to? If I want to truly connect with him and work out our conflict then I need to always be examining my requests of him and if they are appropriate according to his level of development. Can he actually accomplish what I’m asking of him? Is it realistic?

To toddlers, to Jack, this is not just playground equipment. They are so young, they are new to this world. A trip outside, well, it’s like flying to the damn moon.

Abby Theuring, MSW