My 8 year old has spent the whole week teasing me: “Mami, do you know whose birthday we are celebrating on Monday?”
If we were a normal family, and you took a guess, you would probably think that he is talking about one of his brothers, a friend, or a beloved teacher.
But we are not a normal family, so you would be wrong. Because I am raising nerds, and the answer from an 8 year old nerd to that question, is not other than to enthusiastically yell: “Washington and Lincoln!!!!”
And he would be dead serious about celebrating it.
This is the same child who, a couple of years ago, when he was six and we were visiting Mount Vernon, was crushed after realizing that Washington had died. Some 220 years ago. Still, he shed some tears, and we spent a good six months talking about dead and all her friends. And Presidents, of course.
How did we end up with such a nerdy 8 year old, you may be wondering? And, for that matter, 5 year old, and 12 year old? I bet the baby will follow suit.
To start with, genetics may help. Both their dad and I are quite nerdy. Bookworms, you could say. That means they have been surrounded by books since they were born, theirs and ours. I actually have vivid memories of my oldest crawling to a bookcase, just to pull out an actuarial book bigger than him and start tearing pages. He must be a letters guy, just like mom.
He is also the one whose first word was Obama. I am not kidding, and I have witnesses to back that claim. It happened in San Diego, at a fancy restaurant by the sea. He didn’t say “mom”, “water”, or “no”. He just said “Obama”, clear and loud, for all to hear, at the tender age of ten months. As a disclaimer, he was learning how to talk during the primaries of 2007-2008. And mom may have watched too many debates.
On top of that, their dad is a history buff, with a substantial collection of President’s biographies. He blames me for that, and the folks at Unabridged Bookstore, where we get most of our books, may back him up on that. Meanwhile, I joke that the secret to our marriage is to have separate bookshelves: his holds all the history, mine holds all the fiction and poetry. The cookbooks are equally represented on both.
At some point we also got a President’s placemat. It came with a set of educational placemats, but somehow the Presidents were always more popular than the maps or the space. It became such a game at mealtimes, that we had to replace it within months. They had used it so much that they had literally erased all presidentdom.
We followed the mats with their own books, and one in particular became very popular, The President’s Stuck in the Bathtub. You may wonder why.
While I cannot list the names of all of Spain’s presidents and kings, at 3 my youngest was able to list all the American Presidents. In order. And all because William Howard Taft had a cow in the White House. Her name was Pauline Wayne, and I am not kidding. Look it up if you want. Somehow, that fact alone was enough to make presidential history appealing for a lifetime.
So, here we are. Celebrating President’s Day because of the kids, the same way we celebrate Valentine’s Day or Halloween. Diving into our newly minted Americanness, one history fact at a time.
If you are in search of ideas on how to celebrate, books are always a great start. So is a visit to the Chicago History Museum, which is the perfect size for a couple of February hours, and very kid friendly. You can even celebrate with presidential candy. In any case, it is a good day to nerd up. It is way more fun than you would expect.
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