The kids have just completed a screen-free week, thanks to the Newington school district’s initiative that encouraged kids to put away their devices and turn off their televisions for a full week.
To their credit, the school also hosted several events throughout the week like board game night and a nature hike as alternatives for families and to encourage them to find new ways to entertain themselves.
Happily, my children completed screen-free week without too much trouble. I’m sure they missed their tablets and TV, but they never complained. Instead, they filled the house with the Hamilton soundtrack (though they’ve never seen the musical) and spent lots and lots of time reading, playing with toys, drawing, and doing jigsaw puzzles.
It was really kind of lovely.
My favorite moment from the week took place on Wednesday morning. Clara - an early riser - was assembling a “Jigsaw Puzzler Museum” on the dining room table while simultaneously dancing to songs from Hamilton. When “You’ll Be Back,” King George’s song expressing his belief that the American colonists will crawl back to the British Empire once their rebellion is squashed, Clara started shouting back at the song.
“Yeah, right!” she said. “Forget it!” “Give me a break!” “Not true!”
It was hilarious.
Thus ensued a discussion about why she would’ve been a patriot in Hamilton’s day and why the loyalists had it all wrong.
A little later, she was working on a puzzle of the 50 states beside me. She said, “Look, Daddy, the thirteen colonies.”
Rather than filling in the full map, she had only filled in the territory that existed at the time of American independence. Kind of neat. A new way to approach the puzzle.
A few minutes later, she said, “Look, Daddy, the states of the Civil War.”
Once again, she had filled in only the states that faced off in 1861 during the Civil War.
I was impressed. I didn’t know that she possessed this knowledge.
A few minutes later, she said, “Look, Dad. The states of the Mexican —American War.”
“What?” I said. I had to pull up a map to confirm this one, but she was right.
Then, “Look, Daddy, the states of the Louisiana Purchase.”
I couldn’t believe it. She was right again.
Apparently her class is engaged in a map study in school, and even though she can’t put her clothing into the hamper on a consistent basis and leaves food wrappers in Elysha’s car almost daily, she can remember maps with an eerie degree of accuracy.
Little did I know.
It’s weird when your children start to become people who possess facets that you don’t know anything about.
There was a time when everything Clara knew came from myself or Elysha.
Then there was a time when even though other people were teaching her things, I still knew everything she knew.
Now she’s just a person in my house, in possession of skills and facts and opinions that I’m not aware of at all until I find myself sitting beside her before sunrise on a Wednesday morning, listening to her shout back at King George while filling in a map of the Louisiana Purchase.
It’s pretty amazing.