It’s Elementary

Not Pluto. (It's a picture of the sun I took with my iPhone. Don't worry, I didn't look.)

This afternoon I had a disturbing conversation with my 5-year-old.



“Neptune is da coldest planet.”

“Really? Are you sure about that?”


“Actually, I think Plu-Toe might be a little colder” I said, annunciating the word in case he’d never heard of it before. “Because it’s farther out.”

“Pluto’s not a planet, Mama” my son said, insulted.

“Says who?”

“My teacher.”

“Oh really?”

“Yeah!” my other kid, age 7, chimes in.

“And why is that?” I prod.

I want to know because I suspect they won’t be able to tell me.

And because I like to set traps, I mean, “segue into teachable moments”, for my kids.

Also because I don’t know.

I mean, I heard about this Pluto business when it first went down, or was it in Earth Science? But somehow the reason for its expulsion from the planet club evaded me.

“Because its orbit is all wrong” the V-meister informs me matter-of-factly, like when she’s showing me how to use the TV remote. “Pluto is just another object in the Kuiper Belt.”

“You mean the Milky Way?”

“No, I mean the Kuiper Belt.”

“Well I’ll be darned. What else are they teaching you over at that school?”



I have to say Pluto’s demotion to space junk still rubs me the wrong way. Sure, it’s old news, but it stings.

Because one day as they’re beaming themselves there, my kids will say to each other using mental telepathy, “Can you believe Mom and Dad used to think this was a planet?” Then they will high five each other and explode into riotous laughter.

Now if you’ll excuse me, I must fetch my loincloth out of the dryer and put some more logs on the fire. If anyone needs me, I’ll be in my cave, drawing.

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10 thoughts on “It’s Elementary

  1. Becca

    I don’t get it either. What kind of vindictive scientist demotes a whole planet? Why not live and let live?

  2. Tom

    I, too, grew up in a public school system where Pluto was indeed classified as a planet. Of course, we knew about its eccentric orbit and that every so often Neptune became the furthest planet out from the sun, but nobody questioned the validity of its credentials.

    Then again, I always attributed Holst’s exclusion of Pluto in his musical work The Planets having to do more with Pluto’s not-yet-discovered status than as a slight against the celestial rock, but maybe he knew better all along.

    Awesome story, by the way. I always know that I will be leaving your site with a smile on my face.

  3. amy

    So cute. Love some of the conversations with my kids and sometimes I feel really stupid after I have them.

  4. JCK (Motherscribe)

    Pluto will always be a planet to our secret society.

    Love what those kids say. Do you think they slap each other on the back for giving us these “teaching moments?”

    Happy Mother’s Day, Rima!

  5. Stephanie Smirnov

    I think the people who demoted Pluto are the same sickos who decided we all are one month off in our zodiac signs. For the record: I am (and always have been) a Sagittarius, and Pluto is a planet, dammit.

  6. Polish Mama on the Prairie

    Yo, lol…

    Darn kids, poopooing on our 20 year obsolete education.

    I already crushed some beets in my clay bowl to draw on my cave wall the planets, including Pluto, thank you very much, illuminated (bet they didn’t know I could spell that word with my inferior education or is that not a word anymore?) by my fire pit. How’s your cave drawing going, btw?


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