THE TRADITION in our elementary school’s fifth grade is to put on a big Colonial Day each year. The Boss has reached this much-anticipated milestone, and as his parents, so have we. Our son has an acting role – he will be a British soldier at the Boston Massacre – and the whole class will learn about crafts, activities, food, and everyday life in our country’s colonial days by visiting a “village” erected in the school’s gym.
Guess who erects the village, demonstrates the crafts, cooks the food, sews the costumes, and sets it all up and then tears it down and puts it away after it’s all over?
The parents do! And some teachers, and some other good folks from the neighborhood, but mostly, the parents of this year’s fifth graders.
And thus, we are earning our Good Mom Badges and Good Dad Points by Volunteering to Help. Dad was in the gym last night, setting up the village “shops” (mostly, the apothecary and the blacksmith). In a little while, I’m going over to help with the “decorations.” And then later tonight and early tomorrow morning, I am going into fire up my griddle and churn out 4 or 5 batches of Johnny Cakes, to be served with apple butter (which is really hard to buy at the grocery store when you grow up eating homemade apple butter cooked in giant iron kettles).
This is a rite of passage for both the parents and the children, and I have found myself thinking a lot about the big hands-on educational experience from when I was my son’s age: THE MEXICAN FIESTA!
Yep, that’s me, about 30 years ago. (!!) I’m sure my mom must have sewed the skirt and shawl for me, and I remember thinking I looked really cute in that choker with the red flower. We transformed our classroom with colorful blankets and giant sombreros, made more God’s Eyes than you could shake a twig at, danced the Mexican Hat Dance, and stuck reams of tissue paper on I-don’t-know-how-many pinatas. And, of course, there was Mexican cuisine, all made by the parents. (This may explain my affinity for Baja Fresh.)
The whole shebang was designed to help us learn more about our neighbors south of the border. (Also in the same World Studies textbook: Canada, our neighbors to the north! But of the two, nothing says “party!” like a big Mexican fiesta. Sorry, Saskatchewan.) And Colonial Day will give our children a taste of life in early America. Or at least, we hope so. In the spring, they take an field trip to Colonial Williamsburg, VA, which will certainly reinforce what we’re trying to do in the school gymnasium. Also, it’s an overnight, so of course the parents! kids are really looking forward to that.
So, as history repeats itself, I’m ready to dig in and do my part so my son can enjoy this big event, and maybe learn something, too. And in seven more years, I’ll have the chance to do it all over again for The Peezer, and please don’t even ask me to think about how old I’ll be then.
Filed under: 1970s, aging, Central PA, cooking, food, history, Memories, milestones, motherhood, parenthood, perspective, school, sign of the times, social norms | Tagged: apple butter, baja fresh, Colonial Day, elementary school, Johnny Cakes, Mexican Fiesta, milestone, rite of passage, school | 9 Comments »