Monday, February 19, 2007

President's Day or, Why Some Have School and Others Do Not

Today, I asked my little girl if she knew why she had no school today. She replied (with more than just a smidgen of "eye roll" in her voice), "because it's mid-winter break."

"No, darling," said I, "what holiday is it?"

She didn't know. So, I told her. It being the case that she shows more promise of becoming a history buff than I ever did, I thought it might be fun to explain what it is and give her a little "no school today" assignment.

I told her to go on Google and find a list of all of the Presidents thus far and print it out so we could look at it together and discuss what we did/ did not know about them.

More than just a little proud of her resourcefulness in today's electronic world, she immediately produced one of her laminated placemats housed atop the microwave which summarizes all of the Presidents, when they served, etc.

The thing about children is, they are only interested in boring topics such as this when you are expressing interest alongside them. I thought that what I had done was give her a small challenge that may captivate her interest for a little bit while I finished studying for a quiz that I have this evening. The truth of the matter is that I wasn't really interested in learning about the Presidents, I was just trying to give her something remotely educational to do.

It backfired and I was forced to sit with her and tell her the very little that I knew about the Presidents. I'm pretty sure her prior knowledge exceeds mine.

I told her what I knew: we've had some great Presidents, like Presidents Lincoln and Kennedy, some weird like Nixon, and some that just sucked like Hoover (she didn't get the bad, tired joke, but did shoot me a reproachful glare for saying "sucked").

She asked me which Presidents I had voted for and I explained that President Clinton was the first that I was old enough to vote for and not until his second term in '96. This prompted a discussion of terms, where I had to tell her that his first term began in '92 and I was still too young to vote.

"Mom, his first term started in 1993. That's what it says here."

Then the whole lame-duck thing. Then I'd had enough. Time to get back to work. I tried to give her a follow-up assignment, but she wasn't interested unless I was going to do it with her.

She did leave me with a very valid question.

"Mom, if President's Day is so important, why do you have to go to school tonight? How come I got the day off and you didn't?"

"Because you're on mid-winter break."

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