At the Carrot Ranch this week Charli Mills is talking about cold cases and challenges writers to, In 99 words (no more, no less) write about an old mystery in the current time. Is it a discovery? Is it solved? Does it no longer matter, or does it impact innocent generations in between?
My thoughts immediately turned to a mystery that occurred in my family over one hundred years ago when the two-year old brother of my grandfather disappeared and was never seen again.
Most families do have a skeleton or two in the closet. Not all families like it to be known. Many Australian families who can trace the arrival of ancestors back to before the end of convict transportation in 1868 can find a convict in their ancestry. I have two; one on each side of the family. Generally the reasons for transportation were rather minor so I am not too concerned about sharing that information. In fact, many Australians are delighted to find a convict in the past as it adds a little interest and colour to their family tree.
Children generally love to hear stories of their own lives and families. I have written about that before here. However young children probably have no need for or interest in delving as far back into family history as the three stories I have mentioned above. An interest in ancestors further back than living relatives (grandparents and great-grandparents) usually develops later, if at all.
A great place to start thinking about history in early childhood classrooms is sharing stories about the families of children in the class. Most classes in Australia are comprised of children from variety of backgrounds so sharing those stories helps to develop an appreciation for each other as well as knowledge of the world. I developed a unit called Getting to know you for use in early childhood classroom which aims to develop discussion about family histories.
But children can start learning about family relationships even earlier than that by discussions of who’s who in the family and explanations of the words and relationships; for example father/daughter; brother/sister; aunt/niece; grandmother/granddaughter. Here is a picture of some pages of a book I made for Bec when she was just a little tot, just to give you the idea.
Photo books of family members are much easier to make these days with digital photos and programs such as PowerPoint, as well as glossy books you can make and order online.
I am very proud of my two grandchildren, as any grandparent would be, and am pleased to say that they have a good understanding of who is in their family and their relationships to each other. It is a frequent topic of discussion. However I was very tickled when my three year old granddaughter proceeded to tell me, with some excitement, that her Daddy and her Aunty Bec were brother and sister in real life; in REAL life, she emphasized.
Regular readers of my blog may be familiar with a character I have been developing in response to Charli’s flash fiction challenges: Marnie. Her story is not real life but, sadly, aspects of it could be, for others. There was a period of about twenty years when, after escaping her dysfunctional family, Marnie was untraceable, living without any connection to her family and past, a mystery. It took authorities five years after both parents had passed to track her down with the ‘news’. This episode takes up there.
The officers looked friendly enough but still she tried to hide the tremble in her soul and tremor in her voice behind the blankness of her stare.
She’d opened the door just a crack, as far as the chain would allow.
“Marnie Dobson?” they asked. She shook her head. She’d not . . . ; not since . . . ; no longer. She shook again.
They asked her to step outside. With no other option she reluctantly unlocked and emerged into the glare of daylight.
“Marnie Dobson,” one said, “We are here to inform you . . .”
Thank you for reading. I appreciate your feedback. Please share your thoughts about any aspect of this post or flash fiction.