Is it just me or does it seem like Generation Y is living through some pretty unprecedented history? When compared to the mid-70’s up to late 90’s, it seems like none of that compares to the almost decade and a half since the millennium. Sure there were wars, affairs, scandals and most notably the beginning of the internet but it just feels like since 2000, the leaps made in technology has given rise to a new society, the introduction of “smart” weapons has made warfare more precise and lethal, the advances in science led to medical breakthroughs and put robots on Mars – and the transformation of politics has resulted in more women becoming heads of state and the historic inauguration of the 44th President of the United States.
What a monumental weekend this was? While remembering the legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King and watching the inauguration with my daughter, I realized, at least from a political standpoint, that everything in that moment was quintessentially historical. Sure the same political debates are happening, we are moving closer to another fiscal cliff, our brave men and women are still fighting wars but if we step back from all of that for just a moment, we realize that everything that transpired on that day was history being made right before our eyes.
Now don’t get too ahead of me, this isn’t a rally for one political view over another, my point is, our children are experiencing history every day – in effect, our children ARE living history. In my post titled, “A donkey and an elephant walk into a bar…” I talk about how for me, politics and today’s political climate, are front and center in my daily life and I want my child to have an unadulterated understanding of how our democracy works. January 21, 2013 was no different. But I think what ultimately amazed me and inspired this posting was how engaged my daughter was in all of this!
True, my daughter is a bit young to understand the historical and political connotations of this inauguration (only two months ago, after asking her if she wanted to come with me to vote, she said, “I don’t want to go on a boat!”) but that did not stop us from having the most intriguing conversation regarding the events we were witnessing – combined with trying to explain the legacy of Dr. King – I had my work cut out for me! But, I marveled at how she interpreted and internalized the events as they were unfolding and I was amazed by the questions she asked which showed me, that at a certain level, she understood what was going on. Here is just a small nugget of a much longer conversation:
Scene: The oath of office is being read…
My daughter: “Papi, why is that man wearing a black dress?”
Me: “He is called the Chief Justice and that is what judges wear”
My daughter: “But why is he holding a book that the President is touching?”
Me: “That’s actually a Bible and the President is touching it so that he can take the oath of office.”
Looking at me puzzled
My daughter: “The President is saying everything that other man is saying and it’s not nice to copy what people say”
Me (trying not to laugh): “I see your point…”
Undoubtedly, as she gets older there will be many more opportunities to experience history and her grasp of what she is experiencing will become more and more prevalent in her life. But as enlightening as our entire conversation was, the thought of my daughter immersed in this living history, just blew me away – I knew at that moment that I wanted my child to not only learn about history but to also understand that she is, and will also be, a contributing member to history. Her generation will be the most technologically advanced and most globally connected as there ever was – therefore I challenge myself to not only experience history for myself but to also place history in context for her. Keeping this all in mind, we as parents need to foster the spirit of inquisitiveness in our children and what better way to do that than to have them join the conversation as the world continues to change right before all of our eyes.