Harrison Sheldon is one brave little 4-year-old. But that wasn’t always the case, says his dad, Aaron. Six months ago, Harrison wouldn’t climb up on the exam table at his doctor’s office. It was just too high. So, Aaron began to talk to his son about the brave people who also have to go to visit the doctor. “What about astronauts?” asked Harrison, thinking of his toy space helmet at home. Yep, Aaron replied, astronauts are brave.
This encounter got Aaron, a Columbus-based photographer, thinking. Just a few days before he’d watched the awe on his son’s face as he rode the city bus for the first time. It reminded him that there is this whole world that’s new to kids—that what are mundane experiences to adults, from the grocery store to the city bus, are new, exciting adventures for a child. That kids are exploring a foreign world to them, just like astronauts. “I really want to remind parents that we’ve got to let them explore,” Aaron says.
Inspired by Harrison’s love of space, Aaron bought a full spacesuit and helmet and began photographing his son at everyday locations—the barbershop, movie theater, laundromat. Aaron dubbed the project Small Steps are Giant Leaps (a play off Neil Armstrong’s famous first words on the moon), and he’s since garnered a social media following and finished a successful crowdfunding campaign so the father-son duo can take their act on the road this summer.
Astronaut Ice Cream →
Inspired by this tiny astronaut-in-training, we came up with our own riff on astronaut ice cream (that you’d actually want to eat).
We were introduced to Aaron and Harrison after they snapped pictures at one of our Columbus scoop shops about a month ago. We couldn’t resist inviting them to explore the Jeni’s HQ, and enjoy a some ice cream in the process.
“I love ice cream,” Harrison told us as he licked a cone of Ultramarine Blue BFY—a flavor we refer to as spacefruit, and a fitting choice for a kid in a spacesuit. When we asked where his favorite place to shoot has been, he quickly replied Jeni’s (an answer we swear was not coerced). His favorite flavors: Lemon BFY and Salty Caramel.
As for what he wants to be when he’s older? An astronaut of course. The first place he’ll head in his rocket? “Saturn,” he says, “because it has ice rings.”
After a few more ice cream cones, lots of photos, and a round of laser-beam shooting with a few overturned stools, Harrison told us it was time to go, but thanks for “the ice cream meeting.”
Up next, the spaceman-in-training has requested to ride the subway when he and Aaron head to Washington, D.C. this summer. Eventually, Aaron hopes to write a children’s book. The working premise is “questions about space from a 4-year-old.” And in April 2017, Aaron will host a family-friendly exhibit of his photos at Wild Goose Creative in Columbus. You can follow their ongoing Small Steps are Giant Leaps adventures here.