I try not to dwell on the past. What's happened cannot be changed. All one can do is embrace where previous choices have led us to and make the best of the present. If the present is an unbearable place, one must attempt to change the present to prepare a better future.
I don't wish to relive my childhood and adolescence through my children. They are individuals with their own future to form, their own present to live, their own past to learn from.
On one of our recent adventures to the library, the kids were searching for new bedtime stories while I browsed for selected themes for the daycare's storytime. I stumbled onto a 'How To' section of educational resources for parents. As I browsed along the shelf, I found a book that offered titles for a child's reading interests. Beside that were several 'Homeschooling' books. At the end of this collection was one book that caught my attention.
I'm not expecting my kids to earn a diploma from their front facing booster seats, but if you've ever driven any distance with one or more children on board, you are very aware that the best way to get to your destination with your sanity intact is to entertain the kids along the way. Maybe they could learn something at the same time?
The book contains simple games to play, some requiring nothing more than participation. Others require a small suitcase of supplies, (including glue, paint and markers and make me question if the author actually has children). I was pleasantly surprised to find several participation-only ideas for almost every subject in the book.
One of the social science projects I found of particular interest, offering a way to help a child explore their own identity by learning about the past of their family members. It suggested interviewing a loved relative and asking them questions about life when they were little. This interview could even be recorded for a family history project or as a memento of remembrance. The questions all start with "When you were little...." and add the following to the question:
1. ...did you live in a town or a city?
2. ...did you travel by car or public transit, by horse or by foot?
3. ...what kind of games did you play and what were your favourite toys?
4. ...what kind of chores did you have to do at your house?
5. ...what kind of food did you eat?
6. ...did you go to preschool, elementary school, high school? What was school like?
7. ...what major event in history was taking place that you remember? What did you think about it?
Basics, really. It's likely I am more intrigued than the little ones, but I think they will come to appreciate their origins and ultimately the decisions made before they were born that have helped to shape the people they will eventually become.
Buried somewhere in my growing pile of "Stuff I Will Accomplish At Some Point Before I Die" are my journals from my travels abroad some (*gulp) twenty years ago. Twenty years ago today, I was planning the trip of a lifetime funded by a summer of savings and propelled by a one way Round The World ticket. Twenty years later, my children are interested in who their mother was before her hair turned grey with maternal worries. Twenty years later, I wonder who that young woman was and if she's changed much. Her life certainly has.
And for the better.