I met Eli through this years April A to Z and it was instant friendship. His blog, Coach Daddy, is one of my regular reads (particularly his tell a story in 6 words feature). Given that Eli has three daughters, I thought he would have an interesting perspective in getting children interested in History.
How to Infuse History into
Raising Your Kids
So, my three daughters feel like they’re too cool for school sometimes.
They tease me for my excitement for Science Friday on NPR. Heck, they tease me for listening to NPR. My band geek days lasted much longer than theirs – and even my cool jazz band days couldn’t counteract that, apparently. They mostly get good grades.
Love for learning, though? Not so much. Learning’s kind of important, though, and a dad gets only so many chances to teach, with one girl off to college in a week, another entering her sophomore year, and the littlest now in middle school.
Teaching on the soccer pitch is one thing; in the car, when we’re snowed in, if we’re ever snowed in in the car, that’s different. A dad doesn’t want to sprinkle doofus juice on a golden moment with his girls by spouting off on thwarted coup attempts and Shakespeare sonnets.
A dad can however game the system a bit …
It could start with a meme. This political season, there’s a few beating around out there. The caricatures that emerged from each party kind of give a kid-friendly feel, at times cartoonish, at other times, classic comic book. Those personalities, though, have grabbed the girls’ interests.
It’s given way to talking about issues. Talking about issues leads to discussions about history, which include the first president Clinton, both the Bushes, and even Ronald Reagan. It’s amazing how quickly it can evolve into Lincoln, Kennedy, Washington, Adams, and heck, probably Zachary Taylor.
Race riots of the 1990s
“I feel bad for you, girls,” I’ve said as my daughters push station buttons on my car radio. “Your oldies stations are really going to stink.” I realize how curmudgeonly that sounds. Get through a handful of lyrics, and I can actually feel brain cells shrivel like overbaked organic chicken.
Once, it led to a discussion of conscious rap of the 1990s, which transformed into an explanation of the plight of young black and Hispanic men caught up in a turbulent time and a music genre that captured that struggle beautifully. Especially for one iconic father.
“If I have to die today for this little African to have a life,” the unnamed dad uttered in a statement immortalized in rap music, “then I’m a dead ******-******.” This led to a question from my then 8-year-old: Would you die for me, daddy? History takes a personal turn, sometimes.
Our own history
Stories and profiles needn’t live in libraries to qualify as history. My girls count war veterans and ranchers as descendants. Their heritage spans Europe, from Portugal to The Netherlands, Spain to Lithuania. They’re each born in different Carolina towns.
They’ve forged their own histories, in small moments and grander stages, on actual stages, sometimes. Other times, it’s on a regional Super Team, or on the virtue tree at school. It might be for a struggling family outside Walmart, when a child asks if they can get water and crackers to give them.
Because it’s in the small connections that I hope my girls will string together people and stories and circumstance. That they’ll speak to a police officer or friend from another culture or maybe someone they can learn from. Wouldn’t that be cool?
When he isn’t defining zest or hosting blog friends on his page, Eli Pacheco writes a blog called Coach Daddy, documenting life as dad and soccer coach to three rambunctious girls. Follow him on Google Plus, LinkedIn, Pinterest, and Twitter.