No family? No problem! Whether you were adopted, or are estranged from your family, there is still a family-history that only you can write. There are many reasons why a person is unable or unwilling- to begin sitting down with a relative for the purposes of writing down history.
When we think of family history, we often think of the oldest in our family. We think of the senior citizens at our table and the stories they have to tell. But that is not all there is. Instead of looking up, look down. Your little ones- your sons and daughters have a story to tell, no matter their age. And there is a story that they will want to read one day-your story.
Think of those baby-books that most moms-to-be are given at the baby shower. Inside is a place for your child's birth certificate, a lock of hair and places to write about the numerous firsts he/she will experience. Unfortunately, even if we manage to keep up with the baby-book, we usually stop at the first year. And most of us don't even manage to make it that far. Whether your child is six-months or 16, it's never too late to start. But for the sake of a place to begin, lets start with a child who is less than 12. During these summer months, here are a few activities you can have fun doing.
Buy a simple three-ring notebook and 10-20 plastic sleeves. You will need paper of some sort and markers. If you talk to anyone who is a true scrapbooker, they will extole the virtues of buying only archive-safe materials. And it's true. But if you get so overwhelmed with all that, that you give up before you begin, then we've lost something really precious-a moment in time.
Before you start- Here are the rules:
1. Forget perfectionism
2. Do it today
3. Date everything
Now- choose one of the following activities and begin:
1) Favorites Interview- Ask your child the following questions
*What is your favorite color?
*What is your favorite toy?
*What is your favorite food?
*What do you want to be when you grow up?
*Who is your best friend?
*What do you like to do?
*Where do you like to go?
*What do your favorite T.V. show/movie?
*What is the best thing about (sibling's name)?
*What's the silliest thing your (mom, dad, grandma etc.) has ever done?
2) Feet and Hands- Using paint or markers, have your child get good and gooped up, one apendage at a time. Quickly have them put their foot or hand on a piece of paper. Hold the paper down while they pull their hand straight up. Let it dry. Repeat on remaining hands and feet until all are sufficiently messy.
3) Yarn-it - Take yarn or string and measure how tall your child is, then cut the string to size and put it next to a yard stick to see the actual inches. Using masking tape, write the inches and body part on it with permanent market and double it over around the end of the yarn. You can make this a fun project by having your child guess the length of string before measuring. Just for fun, you can do the same for length of arm, leg, circumference of belly, head or whatever you like. Have your child draw a picture of himself on a piece of white paper. Help him write his measurements on the paper with arrows pointing to the part of the body. Glue an envelope to the paper and put the strings inside.
4) Everyday Photos - We all remember to take photographs at special events like baseball games and occasions like Christmas, but what about documenting what his everyday life is like at this particular age. Begin in the morning by taking a snapshot of him sleeping. Take photos of him brushing his teeth, eating breakfast, playing on the floor with his army guys or lining up his matchbox cars for a make-believe race. Take a picture of him at the park and at the grocery store. At the end of the day, when he is tucked into bed, print off the photos and place one or two on a sheet of paper. Label it and put it in the notebook. Be as creative or as simple as you want.
You didn't forget to label everything with a date did you? These activities can be repeated every so often. But now that you're thinking, be creative. Does your child love Nascar or Dora the Explorer? Make a special page just for that. The key is to keep adding periodically. Your child now has his own special book. Take a moment to talk about history. Every piece of history we have- started when one person took the time to write it down.
Next Time: Writing Your own History