Red has been the color of the week around here. And not because of Valentine’s Day either.
We have been reading about the Revolutionary War around here. After reading from their history books, we have taken a sidetrack to read a fictional account of the war–“Boys of Wartime: Daniel at the Siege of Boston, 1776” by Laurie Calkhoven. It has been an interesting read. We take it a couple or three chapters at a time. It has surprised me that it doesn’t pull punches about some of the realities of war, and it has surprised me that our Princess has not just walked away during our reading time. She has some delicate sensibilities–certain words have been known to make her feel ill, and she once could not eat any “squishy” foods for days after seeing the petrified remains of a cat that had met its demise. I’m glad that she seems to be working beyond that phase. (You’d be amazed at how few foods there are that don’t qualify as “squishy.”)
After we finished our lessons the past couple of days, I heard my littles rummaging around in Cooter’s room. From my work in the kitchen or the den, I would hear them marching through the house. When I peeked around the corner, they carried swords and shields, calling them bayonets. At different times, they were either the Redcoats or the Sons of Liberty or one of each. I could hear them call out to each other or their other troops, “Hold your ground, men. HOLD YOUR GROUND.” They tell me these are the words of General George Washington as shown on “Liberty’s Kids,” a PBS Kids program about the fight for independence.
We’ve had a lot of interesting conversations this week. From why the colonists who were blocked off from supplies by the British soldiers might be hungry to how Molly Pitcher met her husband. (He was a barber who stitched her up after she cut herself with a very sharp knife.) At one point we talked about what might lead someone to eat out of a trashcan. And how money doesn’t solve all of one’s problems. We’ve celebrated a birthday and talked about the importance of putting others first, even when it’s your special day. The one conversation we haven’t had, but one that I’ve thought about since hearing their war cry is about exactly that–holding your ground.
My sweet babies. I love hearing you act out the story of the war that gained the colonists independence from the British rule. I love that you are learning about it, and that you are making it your own. It is your own. This is how this country began. Good things can come from holding your ground. Like having independence from things and people who seek to oppress.
When all around you seems to be falling apart, hold your ground. Don’t lose faith or hope or give in to the foolishness surrounding you. When your friends decide to leave someone out or make fun of someone, hold your ground. Do what you know is right, and don’t doubt what you know. When someone is taking something from someone’s bag or yard or car or house or store, hold your ground. Don’t follow. In the words of your Cap, “Is that yours?” If not, don’t touch it. Don’t even think about it. When life throws you a curveball and you just want to throw your hands in the air and give up, leaving behind all that you have done to get where you are, don’t. Hold your ground. When your heart says you should reach out to someone who needs help, but everyone around you is whispering that he is no account and not worth your trouble, remember the story of the Good Samaritan and hold your ground. Do what you are called to do.
One day recently while Mess Cat was over visiting, our Princess came running through the front door. She’d been playing a few houses away with all of her friends here on our street. She came in saying her friend needed a paper towel. I looked at her for a moment, puzzled, and I’m sorry, I just had to clarify.
“You were in her front yard, yes?”
“Yes ma’am.” She reached for a paper towel.
“And she sent you down here to get a paper towel for her?”
“Well, no, I offered.” She frowned up a bit. Maybe she knew what was about to happen.
We’ve had a problem with her letting others tell her what to do to the point of her being in tears, because she finds it hard to say no. She doesn’t want to disappoint or have someone mad at her. I felt a lecture coming up. Again. I want to empower her, for her to be strong.
She spoke first. “Mama, can I talk to you in private for a minute?”
We walked into the other room and she whispered in my ear what was going on between a couple of the other children. She wanted to know what to do about it. I quickly encouraged her and made a suggestion on what would be the right thing and how she could handle it.
With a hug, she and the paper towel were out the door and back up the street.
I went back in the room with Mess Cat. “Well that was really smart,” she said.
“Yeah? How do you mean?”
“She needed to ask you about what was going on up there, and so that she could, she offered to come home and get the paper towel that was needed. That was smart. She wanted to talk to you without all of them knowing and accusing her of tattling.” She went back to what she’d been doing.
Yeah? Yeah. Wow. What had looked like submission had really been an act of strategy and strength.
So, my precious ones, sometimes holding your ground looks like retreating and regrouping. And finding someone you trust to help lead the way. It was a lesson that I needed to learn too. Holding your ground is even more powerful and sustainable when you have others standing beside you.
Hold your ground. Words of wisdom and a life lesson from our first Commander in Chief and President.
I think I just figured out what we’ll be discussing on Monday. Just in time for President’s Day.