7 thoughts on “Making History

  1. I thought those pictures of the Obama girls and their parents at the Door of No Return were just heartbreaking. I am the parent of girls just like those two, spaced the same, and I saw real sorrow, fear, and misery on their faces. I think the Obama’s are doing the right thing taking the girls on as many world trips as they can, and they are clearly wonderful parents (you can see it just in the tender way they hold the girls as they walk or stand) but this shit is too hard and too grim for Sasha. I recognize in her face the same look I see on my youngest daughter’s face–she doesn’t want to be left behind, can’t be left behind, for these family things but its too scary to see your people’s history face to face. I recently returned from a family trip to Foreign places and I forebore to take my children anywhere near the sites of Jewish Deportation or memorials to the second world war that specifically and graphically would have brought those issues up. The Obama’s don’t have the luxury, and we don’t either, of simply leaving that history out of their children’s education. But some experiences are too graphic for such as young child. I had to spend an hour explaining and reassuring my youngest about the meaning of the sex shops we passed while walking from Pigalle to MontMartre–she was that upset and horrified. I can’t imagine how hard that tour of the slave sites was for Sasha and for Malia. Those kids look exhausted, to me, and they really don’t look like they are having any fun.

  2. It’s a serious educational experience that they pretty much would not have access to in any other circumstance. Life isn’t all candy floss & unicorns.
    They are intelligent, they are thinkers, they are feelers – this will help them to make sure such atrocities don’t happen again… No, they don’t ‘have’ to see these sites, but bad things have happened, sad things have happened. Just because they saw these places and will see more – it’s a fact of life – there’s a LOT of ugliness out there. Their parents are able to discuss these things with them. I can’t imagine the Lint Twins ever going to such memorials/sites – even now.

  3. Why, as a responsible parent, would I avoid having to explain to my child that, yes, there is evil in the world, and yes, we owe it to each other as decent people not to let evil have free rein?
    That is the lesson of these places, and I am sure the Obamas are teaching that lesson.
    Life is not fun, in total and evermore. Life is sometimes fun, sometimes enchanting, sometimes endearing; but sometimes it is difficult, sometimes it is painful, sometimes it will force you to endure something you don’t want to attempt. You will be surprised, once that has occurred, how much you benefit from the experience.

  4. Yeah, pretty much agree that our children need to know these things – mine have been round Westerbork and to the Holocaust exhibition at the Imperial War Museum at a comparable age, and it was both necessary and gut wrenching to see my autistic son come to understand just what would have happened to him in Hitler’s Germany…

  5. Well, I seem to have touched a nerve. You know, I wasn’t advocating for ignorance or shielding *all* children at all ages. And I definitely don’t think that its possible to shield african american children from the realities of slavery and racism–or desirable to shield young white children from the real history of racism and slavery in this (or any) country. History is history and reality is reality and covering that up is a luxury I neither want nor seek. But this is qualitatively different from “there is evil in the world and we owe it to each other as decent people not to let evil have free rein.” When you show a child, graphically, that this particular evil was aimed *at them* and all people like them you are saying something really horrifically scary. The “lesson” of the door of no return, the house of child prostitution, the death camps isn’t “wow, I wish I’d been back there to combat it with my powerful rays of goodness.” The lesson is “people come and kill people like me, or sell us for money.” There’s a reason I don’t teach my child about child prostitution by taking her to see Slum Dog Millionaire. Because it doesn’t teach her any useful lesson at all. A child’s eye view of things is not the same as an adults eye view. And all atrocities and histories can not be viewed through the all powerful/can do american lens. “If only I’d been there I could have stopped it! I’m good and they were evil and thus…what?”
    I am saying that I think, from my perspective as a parent of a same age child, that some things shouldn’t be done at certain ages *because they are too graphic* and too real. Its one thing to hear stories, and another to see certain things. And I think it can be excruciating for some children to grasp just how fragile their own existence is–how threatened people were and are. Sasha looks miserable most of the time, in most of the pictures. I think this constant living in the spotlight is hard on both those girls–and the adoring fan like obsession of many of us is part of the problem. As I said, I think the Obamas did and do the right and necessary things for their two daughters, but I also feel that some children don’t really benefit from having to do all their growing up and realizin’ of shit and “oh my god you mean I could have been enslaved for real” or “killed like anne frank” in public on someone else’s schedule. There’s knowing and there’s knowing, is what I’m trying to say.

Comments are closed.