Saturday, August 5, 2017
August 5-6, 2017: Inspiring Children
[August 4th marks the 125th anniversary of the day that Lizzie Borden may or may not have taken an axe and given her mother forty whacks and her father forty-one (more on that crucial ambiguity in Friday’s post). So this week I’ve AmericanStudied five histories or stories of deeply troubled children, leading up to this special weekend post on two children who are anything but!]
The picture of my sons that headlines this blog was already a bit outdated when I began blogging in November 2010, and is really really outdated nearly seven years later. They’re rising 6th and 5th graders now, 11 and 10 years old, and day in and day out the most inspiring presences in my life. Here are three reasons why, one for each of them and then one that’s shared:
1) Pledge Protest: One of my posts in that first month of blogging focused on a preschool Pledge of Allegiance, so it’s only appropriate that I come back around to the Pledge in a very different context. Throughout his time in 5th grade this past year, my older son took a knee during his class’s recital of the Pledge; the idea, entirely his own, was to honor and extend Colin Kaepernick’s anthem protest. Thanks in part to Bruce’s amazing “American Skin (41 Shots),” a shared favorite song of ours, I’ve talked to the boys about police shootings and race in America for many years now; but there’s talking and then there’s listening, understanding, and developing one’s own perspective and voice. My son’s Pledge protest reflects just how fully he’s done all of the latter, and become his own amazing young man as a result (among many other influences of course).
2) Peer Pressure: My younger son is far more naturally social than his brother, and every year thus far has become fast and serious friends with at least one classmate. His 4th grade year was no different, as he and this friend bonded over basketball (my son became a die-hard Celtics fan thanks to this friend and the amazing play of Isaiah Thomas) and many other shared interests. But I’m particularly proud of an influence my son had on this friend—his friend was much less of a fan of schoolwork and homework than my son, and over the course of the year my son encouraged his buddy to get his homework done; much more importantly, he partnered with him on multiple class projects, and I could see (and heard from his parents) how much his friend became energized and enthused by this positive peer pressure. Once again, none of this came from me or his mom or anyone else, but rather from my son’s own perspective and personality and desire to help his friend succeed. It was and is a beautiful thing to witness.
3) Bookworms: Six months back, I wrote a post on Kate Milford’s wonderful supernatural historical novel The Boneshaker (2010). Little did I know then that that might be one of the last books that I would read aloud to the boys, as they’ve moved very fully into obsessive reading on their own, aided greatly by two wonderful series by British YA author Anthony Horowitz: the Alex Rider spy novels and the Power of Five/Gatekeepers supernatural thrillers. The fifth and final Power of Five novel, Oblivion (2012), clocked in at a cool 600 pages (more than 100 pages longer than the longest book we had read together, Wildwood), and the boys each read it quickly and happily. The boys love playing sports, playing games on their iPads or on video game systems, biking to their friends’ houses to “ding dong ditch” them (yes, that’s still a thing, if fortunately without the flaming bag of poop), and plenty more of what might be considered stereotypical boy pursuits or interests. But if anyone ever says that kids these days aren’t reading, aren’t getting engrossed in good old fashioned hard-copy page-turners, I encourage you to send them to this post for an inspiring rejoinder.
Next series starts Monday,
PS. Any children (young or old) you want to shout-out? Now’s your chance!