When I hooked my laptop up to the TV this past Wednesday for a school lesson, I had no idea that it would turn into a day of dancing, discussions, debate, and even a few tears from yours truly. I mean, I was only planning on using the computer to show some charity videos for the groups that I had chosen from our recent membership to the Foundation Beyond Belief. It was a 30-minute lesson, according to my planner. We still had lots of other subjects to cover for that day and all. I just felt fancy because I knew which wires to connect so we could see the screen on the TV and the sound would come out of the stereo (we all know by now that me and computers just don't get along very well, so this is big and exciting for me, and I hope to use this new skill often).
The kids both watched the videos from groups like War Child and Water for People and then, well, an interest was sparked. Learning happened. Humanitarianism happened. My children felt compassion for others and wanted to help. I felt like the Grinch at the end of the cartoon movie, you know, where his heart grows and swells so big that it breaks that little device that is measuring it? Sydney wanted to know why the people didn't have sinks before and how did they have water. Nicholas was outraged to learn that children around the globe no older than he are being forced to become soldiers and torn from their families. Understandably, they had a lot of questions and concerns.
But, lucky for me, and for my kids, I am around to answer the questions when they have them, to break free of the day's plan when something that sparks an interest leads them (or us) astray or when a new opportunity arises. It was one of those sparked interest moments that turned into a daylong discussion with a nine-year-old that I did not expect, but I loved that I was here so it could happen. This lesson on charity and humanitarianism soon turned into something even more.
Nicholas has several areas of interest, including both music and military. He likes bands such as Linkin Park and System of a Down, and when he chooses his own library books he often comes back with at least one true life military book. I thought that in light of the discussion and videos we had just watched, I could transition over into something else that he would benefit from. I gave him the basic definition of the word "lyrics," relating it to our ongoing poetry studies, and explained to him how artists often use their music as a way to express their beliefs and get their views heard. Two of our charities are helping those affected by war, and I wondered if he knew that some of the songs that he likes are very much anti-war.
We used YouTube as a tool and listened our way through "21 Guns" by Green Day, "Disposable Soldiers" by Metallica, "Hands Held High" by Linkin Park, and "Zombie" by the Cranberries. The videos helped him visually SEE what the song was about, but I still found the lyrics for us as well so we could read through them. Some of the songs found myself and Sydney dancing along, like "Zombie." Who can resist swaying at the very least to that one when it's good and cranked up?
The next video had a scene from 9/11, and there came the tears from me. Nicholas wanted to talk about that, and we did, and that lead into a talk about why our country was still at war all these nine years later. WELL. Turns out Nicholas has some different ideas on that than I do. And I just want to say--good for him :) I said I wondered when our soldiers would come home and when would it be done already, what are we still fighting for, etc., etc. I love our military; I just want it to be over, and the further we get from 9/11, the harder it is to believe that there is anything worth fighting for. Nicholas, well, he will make a good soldier for our country should he choose to do so someday. He was very loyal to our men and the freedoms they defend, whether or not he truly understands all matters at hand. He does understand that you get the job done, and he looked me in the eye and told me so. *Gulp.* My little boy just grew up, ladies and gentlemen. Not only has he grown over 2 inches in 9 months, but he was comfortable expressing his political views to me and even gave me a "real life" example, just like I give him. How could I not be proud?!? He said to me, "They are still there because there are still bad people who want to hurt our country. They cannot stop until we are all safe and the bad people have all been caught. It's like if I was outside working in the yard--I can't just quit until the job is done, Mom."
So, did we get any math done on Wednesday? No. Did I read from our current novel? No. But that's OK with me. I think these are the moments where they are really learning something so much more than I could even plan for with my lesson book anyhow.
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