Putting Black Lives Matter into Perspective: Our Study of American History.

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Note to reader: I don’t think Black Lives Matter is political per se, although I do understand that the movement itself has political consequences as well they should.  I hope that this is about as political as I’ll get on the blog but also felt it was important to share how or homeschool allows us and encourages us to dig a little deeper into current events and learn about how our history shapes our current political and social landscape. 

I’ve never been good at memorising facts or dates, but history has always been important to me. History is the context by which we make incredibly important decisions and history is a window to understanding other cultures. This is why history will a very significant part of our homeschool.

I’ve mentioned before that I feel that raising young men is a great responsibility. Raising any child there is responsibility of course, but raising boys that become white male allies is important, and the privilege that comes with being white and male creates it’s own hurdles. One of those hurdles is that it is still too easy to learn history through a white male perspective provided in many of our history books.

I also found that as I was answering questions about Black Lives Matter they had little historical context… What they had learned went something like “Slavery, Abe Lincoln, Martin Luther King Jr has a dream, everything is great because black and white kids can be friends.” I think this lack of context is why (white) people seem so surprised by the Black Lives Matter movement… as if it came from nowhere.

This is why we’ve decided that we will be studying American history from the first slaves landing in Jamestown in 1619 to the current #BlackLivesMatter movement. We’ll end our period of study with at trip to the National Museum of African American History & Culture in Washington DC.

I know, my timing is off because it’s not black history month. Why start in November and not February? Because I intend for this study to take much longer than 28 (or 29) days. In fact, I have no end date for this particular theme. We’ll spend as long as we need in order to make it through. When we study African American History, we study American History so we’ll learn about a few notable white men along the way too.

Of course, we’ll still be taking hikes and playing in nature, that never stops, but if you are following our adventures on the blog and on Instagram you’ll likely see many trips and activities related to this subject as well.

Current events have informed our study and our recent trip to Jamestown was a perfect jumping off point. I feel very fortunate that we have the freedom to learn history this way.

 

Here’s what we’ve checked out from the library to begin our study:
(Amazon affiliate links below if you don’t find these at the library or cannot find a local bookstore which carries them. If you cannot buy locally, please consider purchasing through my link to help support this blog.)

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Chains (The Seeds of America Trilogy)  by Laurie Halse Anderson
The Underground Abductor An Abolitionist Tale about Harriet Tubman – Nathan Hale’s Hazardous Tales
Frederick’s Journey The Life of Frederick Douglass  by Doreen Rappaport
Henry’s Freedom Box by Ellen Levine
Dear Benjamin Banneker  by Andrea Davis Pinkney
Poet: The Remarkable Story of George Moses Horton by Don Tate
Phillis’s Big Test By Catherine Clinton

I’ll keep an updated list of books in posts every so often as we go along.

Please feel free to leave us recommendations of places to go or books to read on facebook, instagram or on the blog as we go!

Boys Will Be Boys: A Mother’s Plea For Help.

Sigh.

I can’t wait to talk about my weekend trip to WOW Summit but this seems to be more pressing given the circumstances.

As many of us have, I have been watching the recent news about Donald Trump’s comments with horror.

Just as I read in horror the coverage of Stanford University’s Brock Turner.

Just have I have sat in horror reflecting many, many comments which are explained away with statements like “boys will be boys”.

Yes, boys will be boys.

As you may have noticed… I’m surrounded by quite a few boys.  In addition to having 4 boys of my own and having been married for 10 years, I have a father and a brother and grew up having many male friends. Regardless of whether or not I had any of those, I live in a society dominated by “boys”.

Boys Will Be Boys A Mother's Plea For Help - A Multifaceted Mama

Over the years, I have learned a thing or two about boys:

I have learned that fart jokes are almost always funny.

I have learned to tolerate a little rough housing as long as they move the coffee table out of the way first.

I know that no matter how much I clean the bathroom it might never matter.

I know that they may have trouble expressing themselves, or freeze when you do. Boys might say things that make your eyes roll, because it’s gross or dense or just plain annoying.

I know a lot girls like the above too.

But I know something else about boys:

I know that they can listen.

I know that they, like girls, look up to role models.

I know they can control their behavior.

I know they can control what they say.

I know they can think of others before themselves.

I know they can treat people with respect.

I know they can understand the meaning of the word ‘stop’.

I know they can be caring brothers, and fathers, and friends.

I know they can tell the difference between right and wrong.

I know they can be emotional.

I know they take cues from their parents and our society.

And I know that boys can live up to the expectations we set for them.

These are the type of boys that I hope my boys will be.

Every day as I raise my 4 boys I remember this. Every day there is some example, somewhere that I can set for them… and every day there is some example somewhere that makes that job more difficult.

Sure, we all have our flaws, but being a boy doesn’t have to be a flaw. Being a boy doesn’t mean that they will be vulgar, or disrespectful. It doesn’t mean that they can ignore people’s boundaries. It doesn’t mean they can take what they want without asking.

We TEACH them what being a boy means. Every day. We show them what it means when we give them passes for bad behavior because they are “just being boys”.  We teach them that it’s okay to behave poorly when they see other “boys” get away with it.

And so, I am asking you to help me.  Give my sons the credit they deserve. Don’t write them off, hold them to a higher standard.  Give them role models who set the example of who boys can be.  Help me show them that boys can be strong without being cruel and that kindness and strength are not mutually exclusive.

Hold boys, including mine, accountable. Start when they’re little. They can take it. Don’t let them get away with being less than what we know they can be. They are better than that. I promise you I will do my absolute best to make sure that my boys live up to the standard we set for them.

Help me teach them what it means to be a boy.  Because, yes, boys will be boys… but eventually these boys will become men.

If this post resonates with you, please feel free to share.
Raising boys. Boys will be boys.

The Not So Picture Perfect Christmas.

It’s Christmas time!!

Time for visits with Santa, sleigh rides, hot cocoa by the fire. Chopping down a Christmas tree, tying it to the roof and singing carols all the way home. Smiling children baking cookies for family members and on the cover of Christmas cards…

… uh. Kinda.

Baking Christmas cookies chaos

The start of the Christmas season at the Cole house looks a little more like this:

– Bins full of Christmas decorations taking up a giant chunk of our postage stamp sized living room.

– Replacing the fireplace only to find it has missing parts.

– Trying to get a picture of the kids in front of our Christmas tree at the lot and not getting a single one with the kids standing still or looking at the camera.

– Someone yelling “I don’t like this music” in response to the 12 Days of Christmas on the radio.

– A child who is terrified of Santa. TERRIFIED.

– A two year old that needs a nap.

– Someone throwing an absolute fit in the car on the way to see Christmas lights.

– Cutting out sugar cookies and then immediately balling up the dough to do it again.

– A fight over the rolling pin.

– Burning said cookies.

– Nobody is wearing a shirt.

– Don’t even get me started on the photo holiday cards. It’s not happening, folks.

Over the years I’ve found that all my attempts to create a stock photo moment of the holidays tend to fail.

Finally I’ve learned to take it in a different direction. As a family of 6 ( plus 2 dogs and a cat) it’s time I surrender to the Christmas Chaos.

Crazy Kids Baking Christmas Cookies Chaos

I should have known better, but those stock photos put together and taken with insta-worthy-pinterest-perfection just aren’t real (at least not for us). But you know, I just don’t care.

We’ll still put icing on our burned cookies. There will be cocoa (complete with schnapps).  At least one of our 4 kids will sit on Santa’s lap. Eventually, we’ll fix up the fireplace and enjoy an evening by the fire (for a minute or two). The photo Christmas cards are still not happening… but who knows, maybe this year we’ll send out a pack of cards we picked up on our 289th trip to Target.

The holidays, I’ve found, are best served up with a nice helping of reality check and a glass of wine.  My kids are making memories whether I have the perfect photo of them or not. If I try to control their fun to make it look picture perfect or hold a perfect pose, I won’t have fun and neither will they.  What good is a beautiful photo if everyone is stressed out about it?

Over the years I’ve learned that the holidays are much more fun when you embrace what it is…

The magic of Christmas Chaos.

I already have all the stuff.

It is now perfectly obvious that I’m pregnant. It’s no mistake, you can’t miss it.
A lot of people ask me if this is my first, and when I reply that it’s my third it eventually comes out:
I’m having another boy.

Three boys?!
Yes. Three boys.

And you know what? I’m looking forward to it.  No, I’m not crazy.

Here’s a typical conversation with a stranger, client, or acquaintance:

“Do you know what you’re having?”
“We’re having another boy”
“And your other two are…?”
“Both boys”
“Wow. Three boys. You’re going to be busy.”
“Yes, it should be lots of fun. We’re looking forward to it.”
“Whew. Well good luck. Do you think you’ll try again for a girl?”
“Thank you.  You know, honestly, I was hoping for another boy, so it all works out. If we decided to have 4 we’ll be trying for a 4th, not specifically for a boy or a girl”
Pause “well I guess that makes sense, I mean boys are easy, and you already have all the stuff”

I already have all the stuff?

Do people really hope for one gender or another because they already have the “stuff”?

I should say, I’ve always understood boys a little better than girls. I relate to them a little easier. I appreciate their humor and the way they look at life.  Admittedly, I was always a person who related to my male friends better than my female friends (if I had any) and it wasn’t until I became an adult and after I was married that I established more close relationships with women than with men. I’ve found having a house full of boys feels quite natural to me.

But not only do I have the “stuff” for boys… I actually like raising boys.
Yeah, the parenting part.

Now, I wouldn’t have been disappointed to have a girl either. I can see the appeal. Yes, the clothes are cuter. But also, it would be nice to have someone to “pass down” things that are unique to being a woman.  There is a bond there and I can certainly appreciate that.

At one time I imagined having a daughter, and teaching her to be a strong, confident, feminist woman.
And yet, it is just as important to start teaching our boys to be strong, confident, feminist men. It seems to me that raising boys who value and respect women is just as important than raising girls who assert themselves. Imagine if we put the same amount of effort into raising confident, feminist boys as we spent empowering our daughters.

So, I’ll take my thoughtful, affectionate, sweet and sometimes overly energetic boys. We’ll knock down the biggest block towers, build cities out of Legos read adventure stores and watch superhero movies.  I’ll break up the game war (where they kick each other until one of them cries), spot them when they use the bunk bed as a jungle gym, laugh at the fart jokes and play tag. I’ll comfort them after they’ve fallen doing exactly what I just told them not to, and occasionally, if I’m really feeling generous, we’ll even battle with action figures.

I’m ecstatic about having another one in the mix. I wouldn’t change it for a thousand tiny dresses.  I have plenty of things about being a woman that I get to pass on to them, just, in a different way.

And besides, I’ve already got the stuff.