Tuesday, July 5, 2011

How Do You Explain to a Three Year Old?... Independence Day

In all honesty, teaching Addie about the 4th of July was not something that I really thought about.  In fact, most of the lessons that we learn are learned on a day to day basis as subjects come up, life happens, and questions are asked.  It is how I feel more comfortable teaching.  In fact, it is how I taught my students when it came to life and moral issues in the classroom.

On Monday, during Addie's nap time, I began watching America: The Story of Us through Netflix at Kristi's recommendation on Face Book.  Half way through the second episode, Addie woke up and came out to the living room where I was and asked what I was watching.

As you read the following conversation, remember that when I speak to my daughter, I speak in terms that she can understand, using phrases that make sense to her, and pulling from past lessons learned.  In our school time, we refer to the United States as USA.

"I'm watching a movie about USA's birthday.  Today is USA's birthday!  When we go to Grandma and Pop's house, you are going to wear a dress that has USA's colors on it because it is USA's birthday!"

Brian came out of the office (he was watching a Rays baseball game- America's game- during this time), and Addie was so excited to tell him, "It's USA's birthday! We're watching a movie about USA's birthday!" (not that she was actually watching it)

In the "movie" we saw an actor portraying George Washington.  Because we have already learned about him during our school time, I was able to remind her of Washington and who he was.  Can I even begin to tell you how excited she was to "see" George Washington on TV!

We went to Grandma and Pop's home for a cook out and to spend time with one of Brian's brothers and his family.  Of course, Addie had a blast running through the back yard, looking at the neighbors' chickens, and making Grandma and Pops work hard for a perfect picture of her. 

The one thing I wanted the most for her this 4th of July was for her to get to see fireworks.  However, because Brian had to go to work today, I knew making him stay out to see fireworks and then drive home later would only leave him tired for work. We have lots of "neighbors" who set off fireworks every year, so I was happy to just sit with her at the dining room window and watch. Brian was now watching the America: The Story of Us that I had watched earlier.

We heard them going off all around us, but we couldn't see anything.  Finally, I decided to go outside with her to the front yard and wait. Again we could hear a lot of fireworks going off, but we could see nothing.  I looked at Addie and said, "Let's pray to Jesus and ask him to let us see some fireworks."

"Okay!" She replied.

I prayed.  Within a minute some neighbors down our street behind some trees began setting some more off.... and we could see them over the trees!  We both said, "Thank you, Jesus!" out loud and then watched the fireworks.  During a lull, we ran back inside to get Brian so he could enjoy the fireworks with us.  The three of us stood and watched, and Addie told Brian that people were happy because it was USA's birthday (we had been talking about the reason for fireworks while we were watching them before he joined us). 

There is definitely much more for her to learn concerning our nation's history, but for now, I am satisfied that she now knows that our nation's colors are red, white, and blue, that it was USA's birthday, and that it is a day for celebration.  The deeper lessons will come in time.  Names, dates, and battles will be learned.  But for now, my three year old knows that yesterday was USA's birthday.  It is enough.... for now.


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