One of the things I love about children is their curiosity. They question everything and are constantly on the hunt for connections. On each of my tours, kids will reference something that I'll invariably want to go look up, freshen up and remember. That I have to stop and refresh is always a bit embarrassing. But here's why:
I hated school. A day in the life of my time in school consisted of giggling with friends, writing notes to them, and hiding under the on-going "teacher looks". Sitting and listening? Not so much. I remember thinking that history hurt. All of the dates, names, and outlines made me miserable. Picturing the past, envisioning a day in the life of those living in the past and relating this to my own life just wasn't happening.
But my family looooovvess history. I was not going to get off that easy. We lived just outside of Boston, a city chock-full of museums, historic sites, grouchy, tea-drinking, taxpaying colonists and witchy women too wild to be holy. My parents couldn't resist. My sister and I were taken to places that made the past come to life. I can still smell the fires burning and hear the blacksmiths banging at Plimoth Plantation and Sturbridge Village. The 1600s, 1700s and 1800s came to life as costumed men and women relived a day in the life, a day I could finally picture. Colonial Williamsburg, further down the road in Virginia, served as the apex of this type of learning.
These sites acted as our family's Disney world. Even though I knew those old fashioned, costumed characters speaking with funny accents were about as real as Mickey Mouse and Goofy, they did something for me I'll never forget. They made the past come to life.
Every day that I torture children with my terrible french accent or risk getting yelled at by that angry homeless lady who is appalled by my 19th century underwear, I hope that I am passing along that tradition of bringing the past to life.
Now I finally welcome those opportunities to figure out dates and remember historic figures and maybe, occasionally, outline this history in my head. Getting to this place took time. About 300 years of living. history.