It has taken me a few days to write this post because, to be honest, it’s kind of embarrassing. But because of what happened, Mr. Sunshine and I have decided to change some things around the hut and turn our surprising revelation into a positive outcome. Here’s what happened:
A few days ago we went out for our daughter’s birthday dinner (albiet, 2 weeks late because of our crazy busy schedules, but that’s probably fodder for another blogpost). We just went to Chili’s and then walked across the parking lot to Dairy Queen for dessert. While we were in Chili’s, some of us finished eating before others. I saw my teenage children break out their phones and iPods and start to disengage with “the family unit”. (No, electronic devices at the dinner table are not the topic of this post either. Again, fodder for another post.) Instead of demanding that they put away their electronics and interact with “the family unit” in a pleasant and fun manner, I decided to fight fire with fire. So I got my phone out and started texting them. (Mr. Sunshine wasn’t too happy until I showed him who and what I was texting.)
Here’s where you’ll need a little background. When my kids were very small and always curious, we used to play a game we named “The Guessing Game”. We played it everywhere. It basically consists of a parent/adult asking the children one at a time a question that they have to answer. The questions were based on their developmental level and, when applicable, what they were learning in school. So the questions might go something like this, “What is our phone number?” “What is your mother’s/father’s full name?” “What does 5+7 equal?” “How do you spell ‘squirrel’?” There are no points awarded. There’s no prize at the end. The reward is the knowledge that you know something. And my kids begged to play this game all the time!
Gradually, we played the game less and less until it faded from our consciousness. Now, back to the present-day Chili’s scene. I started to play The Guessing Game, but by text. I sent them a question by text. They answered by text. The kids were smiling. It was fun! The game migrated with us to Dairy Queen where we ate our desserts outside with other families and while an antique car show was going on.
Once we were at Dairy Queen, I got onto the topic of American Trivia. Mr. Sunshine and I would collaborate and would text each child a question that we believe every American should know the correct answer to. If they got it wrong, I texted, “No, try again.” If they got it wrong a 2nd time, I texted, “No, ask a friend.” (Our son actually called his friend! lol) If they got it wrong a 3rd time, I texted, “No, ask a stranger.” It was a fun and funny experience for the kids, with the exception of the first time they realized we were serious about them asking a stranger for the correct answer to these questions.
Here’s the sad and embarrassing part. They got several of them wrong. Several times. After 10 years of education (both public school and homeschool. I hold us more accountable at home than at public school.) And with a father who served 20+ years in the Armed Forces. To say we were surprised was an understatement.
And strangers got them wrong. Several times. And our hearts were breaking for the country that many of its citizens don’t seem to know intimately. And don’t seem to care that they don’t know intimately.
I won’t share with you which questions my kids (and the general public) got wrong, but I will share with you the questions we asked. See if you know the correct answers (we double checked when we got home to make sure we were correct). Ask your family if they know. I hope and pray that you know more than our kids and our community did a few nights ago. And I can tell you this, by the end of this summer, my kids will know, respect, love, and cherish more about their country than they did a few nights ago.
THE GUESSING GAME: PATRIOTIC EDITION, VOLUME I
1. How many states are in the United States?
2. Name one person who signed the Declaration of Independence.
3. How many Senators are in Congress?
4. What is the name of the current Governor of the State of Florida?
5. Who is the Vice President of the United States?
6. Who is the Speaker of the House of Representatives?
7. Who wrote the National Anthem?
8. How many stripes are on the American Flag?
9. Who made the first flag of the United States?
10. How many Congressmembers are there in the House of Representatives?
11. In case of a tie vote, who is the tie breaker in the Senate?
12. How many Justices on the Supreme Court?
13. When was the Declaration of Independence signed?
14. Where was the Star Spangled Banner written?
15. Name the probable candidates for US President for this upcoming election.
I’m not giving you the answers. That’s too easy. Good luck, and if you can think of other questions that every American should know (and that we should teach our kids this sumer), please send them to me!