Our homeschooled daughters have shifted gears in their studies and turned their attention on to British history and culture in preparation for our trip in June.
I’ve always loved English literature and through the help of some online games and resources, I was delighted to hear our girls start to chatter about two prominent figures. First they we introduced to Shakespeare. They were watching movies, reading abridged versions, looking at the plays and basically emerging themselves into Elizabethan England. I started to watch as their arts and crafts and imaginary games took a turn into befriending “William” and the characters of Romeo and Juliet. It was, as both a theatre major and a homeschooling mom, on of my crowning moments.
Next, they wanted to enter an online contest regarding Jane Austen. They had to study one of the stories and design an outfit for a character.
Pride and Prejudice was the chosen tale and for 2 nights I sat, snuggled up, with my girls watching the most recent version with Kiera Knightley. Their love of romance blossomed as they watched in awe and admiration the nobility of Darcy and they gained a deeper understanding and respect for sisterhood as they watched Jane and Elizabeth’s relationship.
Again, I silently burbled with pride and joy. However, I was soon asking myself “Where do I take them next?” If at their ages now they are delving into the literary greats, what doors can I open for them in the future to fuel their fires? Had a peaked too early?
Its amazing watching our children’s lives unfold for themselves. Although we can offer them tools, advice and possibly guidance, even from very early on they steer their own ships and will naturally go where the Joy is, which is just as it should be for all of us.
All that to say, did you know they’ve come out with a new My Little Pony series, “Friendship is Magic”? It has the residents of Ponyville back, looking slightly different, but boasting the same qualities of friendship, generosity, love, and laughter that they have had since I was a little girl.
Well, our girls took a side step from British past and discovered this new version last week. Suddenly, Shakespeare and Austen were set aside and plans to save enough pocket money to buy figurines became the new focus. Parties are being held for Rainbow Dash’s arrival, and the literary great website has been replaced for helping a pony pop clouds to block in the sun.
Now for any parent with their child’s education in mind, this could come as a bit of blow. But I was actually thrilled to watch it. Somewhere in society we’ve set a scale, a developmental ladder to measure our children’s success by. Why? I was thrilled by our girls chatter about Shakespeare, but more because something that is beautiful was giving them so much joy. I hear the same sense of fun and joy from them watching Pinkie Pie sing a new song. To see them find the balance between older worlds and a younger child’s experience, without being guided by what other’s think or how smart they “look”, but just how much joy it brings in the moment, that in my mind is a successful parenting day.
For all their lives the names of Shakespeare and Jane Austen will live on in their memories and I would think that one day they will revisit them. But they already have the advantage of not labelling them “boring” or as a school subject, they saw them as fun and in doing so learnt more then they ever could if introduced to them later on, officially. But they feel just as good watching ponies leap and fly and they feel no embarrassment saying so.
I wish I could have felt that freedom in my studies and I hope I can gain that liberation in my life- to love what I love, just for the joy. What a lovely thing it ‘tis.
And knowing my Shakespeare, he would agree.
In fact, if he was here today, he might be tempted to write about flying ponies himself.