September 08, 2009

History Schmistory

I am a proud Virginian.

That pride really came to the surface when we moved to Arizona my senior year of high school, and as part of the graduation requirements, I had to take Arizona history. I'm sure that some valuable tidbits of Arizona's origins were taught. However, all that I remember is sitting there and learning about the saguaro cactus and how to kick it over to access the water in it to survive if needed. I remember sitting there in my class of three (all seniors recently transplanted from different states that all had this requirement to meet, somewhat bitter that we all moved during our senior year) and thinking -- I am sitting in a history class learning about cacti. Virginia history is so rich and deep that it fills textbooks.

I want my kids to appreciate all this history that surrounds them. I still take a great portion of it for granted. So to fill some final hours of summer I took them to Sully Plantation last week.

We were the only people on the tour so I felt relieved in the beginning to tell the tour guide that we needed the "early childhood education" version of the tour. The elderly volunteer tour guide then proceeded into her well prepared speech suitable for hobbyist historians. After it took us 30 minutes to get through the first room I asked the kids some elementary questions about what they saw in the room. I hoped that she would see the level that I was speaking to them on and bring her presentation down a couple notches (and shorten it as well).

I had Eliza in the front carrier and had a squirming and screeching Bridger on my hip. She kept on going. . . and going. . . and going. . . Three floors and an hour later I told her that we need to wrap it up. She said she would but just wanted to tell them about one more thing, which lead to another and another. Obviously she is a proud Virginian too. Much more prideful than I. At this point I was in a full sweat from my full upperbody work-out negotiating Bridger and the baby. I thanked her for our special tour she gave us and we escaped through the back door as the tour guide was still hollering to us the geneology lines of each of the homeowners as we walked down the path. She was a sweet lady.

We all needed a little treat after that so we walked to the gift shop and everyone choose a candy stick which we ate as we relaxed in the lawn of the plantation.

As we sat there I asked each of the kids what they learned and what was their favorite part:

What they learned:

Sadie: "I forgot"
Me: Hmm, can you really forget what you didn't hear to begin with?

Eva: "How wool from sheep is cleaned"
Me: "How?"
Eva: "I forgot"

Lance: "Well, we have a lot of things that they didn't back then so if we all put our heads together now then we can think of some things for later that we don't have now"
Me: Not your traditional regurgitated fact, but an acceptable answer.

Favorite Part:

Sadie: "The candy"
Eva: "The candy"
Lance: "The candy"

There are moments in motherhood when you think, "Well, that went over like mud". This was one of them. I will make proud Virginians out of them yet, I will just be more selective of my venue next time. We went home and had our annual ice cream dinner to celebrate the end of summer. As we begin school I am especially grateful for all of the history teachers out there that can supplement my woeful attempts.

** No offense intended to any Arizona natives out there. I love your cactus, really.