We’re going to try to explain World War II?
No. I waver just for a moment. Just what happened in Japan, after.
We stare at each other, both so-very-stubborn and so-very-sure that we’re RIGHT.
His eyes say It’s so sad.
And mine say What’s the point of doing this otherwise?
His tender heart is one of the many reasons that I love him. He doesn’t want to have this conversation with our young girls. But he yields to that not-giving-in-anytime-soon teacher heart of mine and trudges on.
Do you guys know what a war is?
Kayli nods confidently. A big fight.
That’s right Kay. There was a big fight. The United States thought that it was time for it to end.
He mentions Hiroshima. Bombs. Chemicals. Leukemia.
Kayli’s not-quite-seven year old brown eyes look serious. Chloe’s four year old’s version of the same eyes, but with her trademark spark, are open wide. Looking up at him through impossibly long lashes.
Are we still in a fight with them?
No, Chlo. We’re not. Japan and the United States are very good friends now.
Two sets of eyes, that match Jason’s to a tee, turn to mine. Sad. Inquisitive. Learning. But their shoulders relax for the moment. Good friends, they understand.
But HERO and HEROINE? For those they imagine capes. And flying. Maybe someone getting knocked down. Or saved. Or knocked down and then saved.
What they’re missing in their current definition, is IMPACT.
And that’s why I read Sadako and the Thousand Paper Cranes by Ellen Coerr with the purpose of introducing the heroine, Sadako, to our children. Above is a glimpse of our dialogue about that really sad book that Mommy read the other night.
Honestly? It would have been easier to skip the lesson and just craft it up. I know that at my girls’ tender ages they don’t need to know about war. And leukemia. And children that die young.
And yet, they do.
Learning has the biggest impact when we can relate to the subject matter. When we feel something. Personal narratives make history come alive in a way that ice cold facts just can’t.
We remember people’s stories.
I dove into Sadako’s story on a Saturday night. Curled up on the couch as my family’s rambunctious noise surrounded me. Her youth. Her family. Her love of running. Her atom bomb sickness. Her hospitalization. Her death. And, of course, her cranes.
Don’t you remember that old story about the crane? Sadako’s best friend Chizuko asks. If a sick person folds a thousand paper cranes, the gods will grant her wish and make her healthy again. Here’s your first one.
And that’s where my tears started to flow. And how my children knew that the book was really, really sad.
And how I knew that it was right to share Sadako’s story with them.
Sadako was a heroine because she stayed strong in the face of her sickness.
She didn’t give up.
But, she was also a heroine because she made a difference in people’s lives.
Sadako made 644 paper cranes. Her classmates made the other 356 so she could be buried with 1000.
Her friends wrote a book telling her story.
Young people in Japan raised money for a statue of Sadako.
People still leave cranes there today.
A Folded Crane Club was organized in Sadako’s honor.
We shared bits and pieces of Sadako’s narrative with our girls. The ones that they could understand, remember and know.
And then, once we had IMPACT, we crafted.
We used colorful origami paper to fold a crane, a frog, a butterfly and a fortune teller. Remember those? Choose a number. Then a color. Open up that flap to see your fortune! In this case: Your mom will say yes to whatever you ask for. Genius.
Later, the kids put on a play with their origami creations. Which, of course, ended in a wildness that had no hope of being contained. I didn’t even try. I just recorded a glimpse of the chaos. And set it to music. Obviously.
Once everyone settled down and was tucked into bed, we asked the kids about their day’s Highlights and Lowlights.
In case you’re wondering, learning about Sadako was a Highlight for all. Only beat out by warm chocolate chip cookies before bed. But really, chocolate chip cookies are tough competition.
February brought many heroic crafts to the Families, Create! Carnival. Check out some of the wonderful posts from last month’s participants below, and be sure to visit Code Name: Mama and Living Peacefully with Children to find out how you can participate in the next Families, Create! Carnival.
- The Artsy Mama made a personalized birthday hat for her son’s first birthday. Learn how to make a Hero’s Birthday Hat for your hero or heroine with very few sewing skills.
- Mandy at Living Peacefully with Children found inspiration in books for some I-Spy items in her post, I Spy Items – The Last Olympians and The Lost Heroes.
- Megan at Purple Dancing Dahlias found out how one random act of kindness can shower the world in kindness in the book Ordinary Mary’s Extraordinary Deed.
- It’s a bird, it’s a plane, it’s Super Kieran! Dionna at Code Name: Mama shares the Superhero Capes she made to celebrate her son’s heroic qualities.
- At Z Everyday Things, Mama G made easy and quick Super Zs!, personalized superhero appliques on shirts, for her children. Easy and quick!
- Lauren at Hobo Mama has a son who loves to dream up stories and one heroic imaginary friend. Read her post about Space-Alien Hot-Dog Monster & Silly Guy .
- Heroes are often everyday people. Mandy at Living Peacefully with Children was inspired by the gift of a sock in Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets, prompting her to make Dobby’s Sock as part of her Harry Potter ornaments.
- Galit Breen at Three Little Waves used the book Sadako and the Thousand Paper Cranes as a springboard for a sensitive discussion and a fun origami project for her whole family in her post Families Create: Heroes and Heroines.
- Need a creative gift idea for a toddler or preschooler? Dionna at Code Name: Mama shares a simple Tutorial for a Two-Sided Felt Playmat (one side is outer space, one side is a jungle scene).
- Literature and adventure inspired Mandy @ Living Peacefully with Children to make these Treasure Bags for Imbolc.