Ever since my brother graduated high school a couple years ago, my mom seems to be in a perpetual downsizing mode. She hasn’t gone to the extreme of searching for a smaller house — after all, my brother still lives with my parents along with their pack of dogs that now numbers five — but it seems like, pretty much monthly, she finds something else to give me. Sometimes it’s a cardigan she bought but never really wore (and fortunately, we’re similar sizes and she’s very chic, so it’s a good thing). Sometimes it’s magazines (since she knows I use them for writing exercises at school). But increasingly often, it’s books and other resources from when I was a kid.
Being homeschooled means that we’ve acquired many things over the years that most families don’t necessarily own. I have my own microscope — a gift from my grandparents — and telescope — a long-desired birthday present from my parents from the days when I wanted to be an astronaut. We had a plastic model of the human skeleton and flashcards and a couple of textbooks that were generally shared between us and our homeschooled friends.
Now that my mom is finished teaching at home, all of those things are beginning to come to me. Among my copies of The Lord of the Rings, CS Lewis’ Space Trilogy, and Jane Austen’s novels, there are books on everything from Vikings to dinosaurs to outer space.
This week’s acquisition: something I had nearly forgotten about.
One year (fifth grade? Maybe sixth?), we set aside the usual textbooks and ventured into a part of history that usually doesn’t receive a year’s worth of attention: Native American tribes. We started on the East Coast and slowly worked away across the nation, examining everyone from the Iroquois nation of the New England-ish area to the Timucuans of Florida to the Osage of Missouri and Kansas to the Nez Perce of Idaho. So many years later, each tribe name still conjures up nearly forgotten memories of the types of homes they lived in, the designs on pottery and clothing, the hardships that they faced, the legends my brother and I wrote in their storytelling styles, the giggles over names like Kickapoo (and I’m not making that name up!).
What made this very cool was that, over my fifteenth birthday, we drove out to Four Corners (the New Mexico, Arizona, Utah, Colorado area) on a grand RV trip. While we were there, we had the chance to meet people from the tribes we had learned about years before. While in Monument Valley, we even met a chief. Not that we knew he was a chief until after he invited us to his home where they were holding a youth rally to teach the teenagers about their traditions.
And now the poster will be stowed away in a special drawer where I’ve kept some of the school-related things that my mom has given me until I need it to teach my own children when the time comes.