For Lukas it started before he was born. Mrs. LIAYF picked up a cloth Space Shuttle complete with a finger puppet Astronaut and Rocket Scientist. Lukas played with that toy quite a bit in his first year (post-stasis).
Then, at some point while reading the multitudes of various books to our little spaceman Curious George and the Rocket became one of his favorites. He especially enjoyed the countdown sequence where at the end I would make that gurgle hissing blast off sound with my mouth and slowly move my hand up into the air to simulate the rocket breaking the force of the Earths gravity. I read it over and over again and always, as I raised my hand, I could see a bit of wonder fill his eyes.
More recently we picked up a couple of other books depicting young boys and their rockets. He loves Space Boy which is a fun story of a boy who doesn't want to go to sleep, so he decides to climb into his backyard rocket and travel to the moon for a picnic. Space Man Sam is another one, which was actually given to us by the owner of Seattle's Atomic Boys toy and candy shop. It has several interactive flaps as well as a second smaller book at the end in the shape of a rocket which can be shot out of the spring loaded back page (In truth the book doesn't travel more than a half an inch, and as Lukas quickly discovered, the springs will shoot graham crackers much further.)This fascination with rockets and spaceships also led to the palpable level of excitement that burst forth from our son when, to our surprise, we recently happened upon 'The Reading Rocket' at Seattle's Izilla Toys. Lukas, grinning from ear to ear the whole time, couldn't get enough of this kid sized rocket ship complete with a ladder, lights, dials, chair, and a kid-sized space suit. In and out. Up and down. We must have circled the moon a hundred times that afternoon.
All in his imagination.
Then, early Sunday morning while still half asleep and reading a stack of books to my son, he pulled that old copy of Curious George and the Rocket off the shelf for me to read.
Being exhausted, I couldn't muster much more than a half hearted blast off sequence. Then it hit me. I finally had an idea that realistically should have come to me a long time before, especially given the day and age we live in.
"Lukas, do you want to watch a real rocket taking off?" I asked. "Yeah!" was his obvious answer. So, once dad had been properly caffeinated, we pulled out the laptop and witnessed several different 'blast-offs' all from the comfort and gravity of our own dining room.
"Whoa. I wanna do dat!" he excitedly intoned as he watched the sequences.
-"Buddy, you're two and a half. When you are grown up, you can do anything you want. Including taking a rocket to space" I proudly replied.
Hey, nobody said imaginations were limited to the little guys.