Monday, June 27, 2011

And Then What Happened?

We were on Maryland's Eastern Shore, eating Pho. Because that's what we do, when visiting the land of crab cakes. The sky was blue, the children were smiling, and I felt compelled to read aloud from promotional tourism brochures.

I am my mother's daughter.

I turned to my oldest, "Owen, do you want to hear how we defeated the British Navy here?"

He munched on a chicken tender, "Okay."

"The people of St. Michael's hung their lanterns way, way high in the trees so that the British overshot with their cannons. They people were safe, and the town didn't get hit. Only a few trees." As I spoke, I attempted to focus on the details that would interest my son---fire and cannons.  

Owen finished chewing, "Then what happened?"

"Well, then, we eventually defeated the British and the United States became an independent nation," I replied.

"Then what happened?"

"Well, then we started our own government. But the British didn't like that, and they started another war in 1812." My voice grow louder as I elaborated, "There was a battle right by our house! With big ships and more cannons!"

"What was wrong with those British?" He twisted his fingers a bit as he spoke.

"Nothing was wrong with them," I said. "They just thought they knew how to govern this country better than we did."

"What ELSE did those British do?"

'They did the thing that makes Americans really, really mad," I answered. "They made them pay taxes."

I glanced at my husband. "Am I starting to sound like Sarah Palin here?"

"A little," he said, "Are you going to finish your Pho?"

"Anyway, Owen," I replied, passing the bowl to Paul, "Americans wanted to have a say. No Taxation without Representation!" I pounded the table, as my fellow diners asked for the check.

Owen nodded as I detailed the Stamp Act, the Boston Tea Party, and the Shot Heard Around the World. He asked questions, specifically, "And then what happened?"

And I realized something. I was having fun. A lot of fun. For the first time, Owen and I were talking about something of mutual interest to us both. We were building a bridge out of words and ideas, and together, we would reach the other side.

I thought about field trips. Mother-son trips to Bunker Hill and Harper's Ferry. We could listen to the whispers in graveyards and yellowed documents. He could learn about the flawed, but strong people who built this land--Jefferson, Cady, King, Lincoln, and Sitting Bull.

And we could build a history of our own.


Mary Barker said...

What is pho? Good post. I wish my grandkids was as interested as your son.

Formerly known as Frau said...

Love that you peaked his interest....I certainly think your story telling ways help and you are so much better than Sarah Palin! Have a great week!

Anonymous said...


My son and I bond over science stuff - we read and discuss a lot of Magic School Bus books. Sometimes you just need to find a common language.

Victoria KP said...

Fantastic! My son LOVES hearing about the revolution. He still doesn't quite get it that we aren't still at war with the British though :-).

Have you ever watched the cartoon series Liberty Kids? It's about a bunch of kids who work for Ben Franklin's newspaper during the revolution. It's available on Netflix & my boys really like it. I find it a little disconcerting that Sylvester Stallone does the voice of Paul Revere. I keep expecting him to say, "Yo! The British are Coming!"

CDG @ Move Over Mary Poppins! said...

Is it selfish of me to say, "Bunker Hill!" (or rather, Breed's Hill, which is where the actual battle happened)?

I only live 25 miles from there!

Let's do the Freedom trail!

Anonymous said...

I've never been north of NC along the coast. And even that was more than 10 years ago. What's a pho?

Rebecca said...

In your list of things you could talk about you said "Cady, King" and in my mind, I reversed the words and added an extra letter to Cady. I read "King Candy" and then I thought of Candy Land and now I want ice cream, soda, and lollipops.

Cheryl said...

"Listen my children and you shall hear, the midnight ride of Paul Revere.."

And he said, "We're not going to give you our guns" or something.

Sorry, you brought up Mrs. Palin.


Cheeseboy said...

Can you see Russia from your front porch? You're no Sarah Palin.

I really wish I had you for a US History teacher in high school though.

Deb said...

I'm not sure Sarah Palin would know what pho was, let alone eat it! Even apart from your knack with words, that says all that need be said on the question of likeness between you and Palin. :)

From Tracie said...

I love love love this so much!!

It is a magical moment when our children show an interest in something we are passionate about and that bridge is built. Magical.

Cat said...

Ah, fantastic. Really... just awesome.

Anonymous said...

I don't know what Pho is but I do know how good it feels when you make a special connection with your son. I have been very lucky to have connected with both my sons, in different ways, over the years. Doesn't matter the subject of the connect, just that it happens. For me and my older son, the connections were humor and his sons. For me and my younger son, it's humor as well, but also football, Star Wars and all things Disney. And we are still connecting. They grow up, Nancy, but they never forget your loving efforts. You both reap the benefits for years to come.

Kristy said...

Oh, so sweet! It's fun when you feel like they're actually listening and learning from you. And your not just having the same conversation over and over about Little Bunny Foo Foo and why he bopped mice on the head and why the good fairy turned him into a goon and what is a goon?

Accidental Expert said...

How great! Those conversations are priceless aren't they?

Jenny said...

This sounds exactly like my husband. The Grands now sit entranced as he explains things and they all talk about it.

It makes me wish I would have paid attention a bit more in school.

Neat story.

Julie said...

I want to eat Pho and talk about history with you...

So. Cool.

Mrs4444 said...

How cool is that?! (very cool) :)

Coby said...

Awesome nerdiness! I have a feeling you and Shayne would have a good time together!

But you're so right - "building a bridge out of words and ideas..." When that starts to happen with our kids, it's a fantastic knitting together of hearts.

Ash said...

"And then what happened?"

LOVE it.

You make me want to brush up on my history!

E and I are addicted to "How the States Got Their Shapes" on the History channel. Fascinating stuff. You can watch the full episodes online -

No, they don't pay me :)


Ash said...

P.S. Pho is a tofu substitute, right?

Joann Mannix said...

You are so lucky! I am a history fanatic and I have spent my children's lifetimes trying to fill their hearts with a passion for the history of this great country. When I start a story, I get the eye roll and the groan and the, "Not another history lesson, pleassssseeee."

I hope he keeps his open heart and you can tell him all your tales.

The Rambler said...

LOVE this! I can't wait for my Lil Rambler to get a little older so we can have conversations like this!