Sunday, August 3, 2008

Actually, it IS a pen.

Dear parents who are bringing your children through our Living History exhibit, please refrain from the following two behaviours:
1) From a distance, carefully not speaking to the people who are actually doing things, tell your children 'look, that's what they did before they had (blank)', most especially when you do not know what those people are actually doing, and you are guessing wildly.
2) When your children have come closer and are excitedly trying out whatever the re-enactor is demonstrating, loudly say to your child 'That's really hard, isn't it? Aren't you glad you don't have to do it that way now?'

I understand that in the first case you are trying desperately to maintain the illusion for your child that you do know everything, and in the second you want your child to appreciate his/her advantages. But the only solid way to achieve the first is to lock your children in a cellar without an internet connection. The second one is self-defeating--how can someone gain and maintain interest in the world around them when they constantly get the message that other ways of being and doing are inherently difficult and second-best? Might as well stay in that cellar, provided it has internet access.
Admittedly, I subvert both of these tactics every chance I get. When I hear from one of the passing blurs (I don't wear my glasses when I'm 14th c.) "Look, that's what they used before they had pens." I say clearly "But this is a pen. It writes well, and I can make it myself. Would you like to see how to make a feather into a pen?" If I'm feeling stroppy, I ask cheerfully if they can show me how to make one of their pens.

Fortunately, the majority of kids who come through are straightforwardly interested in everything we're doing, from weaving and cooking to woodturning and cutting quills. The armour and the Fiore school combat, of course, is teh sexxorrs, and the rest of us get a break when the wooden waster swords come out. Mark had more armour this year, and there was much excitement.
Many children went home with cut quills--Harry Potter has been good to the craft of writing with a quill. Many children also went home with 'your name written with a feather' which is my reliable turn, and gives me a snapshot of fashionable kid's names.
The old-fashioned names like Olivia are holding up (three Olivias) along with the oddly-spelled standard names. I collected about five different spellings for Kayley including Ceilidh (only one this year, last year I had two Ceilidhs), and a Kimber-leigh. The most gratuitous, I think, was Mhina, which her parents(?) admitted was spelled that way just because.
Probably these children will not be bothered by the spellings because their whole generation will have to spell their names out routinely. Mind you, because of bleddy Streisand, I've had to spell my perfectly ordinary name out for most of my life anyways. And medieval names had no standard spelling so it doesn't matter how anyone spells Linot.

Anyway, to celebrate Mark's new armour, here's a pic of me gazing adoringly at it--or at something just behind his head, according to him.


Lulu said...

What a charming photo!

You missed an especially gruelling Clinton War this year, so you made a wise decision to stay home.

Mind you, you DID miss the blue stick-figure dancers with glowing pink peepees...

batgirl said...

I was sorry to miss you, though. I have to talk to Mark about how we're getting to World Fantasy, because he was making noises about driving. If so, I might be able to take a couple of extra days and visit Edmonton, dammit.
Glowing pink? Were they glow-in-the-dark condoms, or (in)appropriately placed glowsticks?

Lulu said...

Glowsticks. It was actually quite interesting and visually effective, until the performance devolved into a disturbing demonstration of stick figure anal sex, whereupon Bess called out, "Inappropriate!" and we sought refuge in the tent.

I have just learned that Montengarde is hosting May Crown this year, so thatis always a possibility, too, if somewhat in the future.

batgirl said...

That would give me a reason to go to May Crown. Hm.
Ah yes, I remember one Clinton night years back, walking a couple of Maelen's kids back to the cabin, past the flagpole with an inflatable sheep hanging from it, garnished with inappropriately placed glowstick.
"That sheep is glow in the dark," observed the innocent child.
"Yes, it is," I said, and hurried them on.

Lulu said...

That's hilarious!

batgirl said...

I can only hope that said innocent child then pestered its parents for its very own glow in the dark sheep.