27 Apr
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For the Love of Humanities

It was evident early in our parenting journey that our children had an affinity toward sports. They enjoyed playing anything we exposed them to and watching sports was a family activity we rallied around. As a former sports reporter, having children who enjoyed something I loved was an easy way to connect.

Early on we decided, as parents, that our children would be exposed to a wide array of experiences. We didn’t want their childhood to solely revolve around fields and courts. There would be concerts, museums, plays, art supplies and books. They can be athletes, but they can also be artists, dancers, musicians and actors. We strive for them to be difficult to place in a defined box. Humanities play an important role in our daily lives.

boy playing flute in a concert band

Music is ever-present in our home. We’ve morphed from the days of The Wiggles to an array of  musical styles from Christian to Disney to Jazz and Top 40. Playing an instrument is something I regret my parents didn’t push me to do. I had a short run as a violinist in elementary school and wish that was a skill set I had as an adult. We encourage our children to pick an instrument to learn. As much as I want someone to play the guitar or piano, no one has picked either of those. One of our sons chose the pan flute first before taking recorder lessons and moving to the flute. I’m open-minded to where their curiosity leads them.

ballerina dancing in a recital

Dance, which is a mix of art and sport, is a large part of our daughter’s life. The girl has always been a dancer. One of our sons also helps out at the studio as a partner when needed. We’ve learned over the years that once one child opens the door to a new activity or love, inevitably, someone else will join. I even took ballet last summer and competed in a Spring dance competition.

Most people who walk into our house comment on the number of books in our home. There are bookshelves and book boxes in almost every room. Stacks of books are integrated in the way I decorate. The written word has a powerful, life-changing quality. Our kids know the magic that lies in the pages of a book, whether teaching you something or providing a gateway from reality.

There have been language camps and classes for painting and pottery. We’ve toured countless historical sites and museums. We’ve watched various people and groups perform in an array of ways. It’s all been done under the catchphrase of “well-rounded.” That term means something slightly different for every family. For us, it’s exposing our children to things we, retrospectively, missed from our childhoods along with things we would never have tried or knew was out there. It’s mixing those things in with what we know.

boy acting in The Little Mermaid

Our daughter has mentioned the desire to act. I see that on the horizon as something she’ll choose, but I didn’t see the acting bug coming last year with our oldest son. His middle school performed a musical which he acted and sang in. Admittedly, the director sought him out after hearing him sing in class and desired more boys to participate. Our son had never acted nor had any voice training, but he does read music, has a charming personality, is brave and has a memory like a trap. My role as parent is to guide and support. I helped run lines with him and offered suggestions based on my limited acting career in high school. We supported this new passion, but weren’t sure how enjoyable acting would be for him. He enjoyed it so much that he’s currently preparing for opening night of a second school play this weekend.

Our children our blessed to live in a community with strong support for arts and humanities and an assortment of entities and businesses geared toward those pursuits. However, we also live in a state hit with recent budget cuts and surely more cutting in the future. We can feel belts tightening, and I fear the humanities will shoulder more cuts than other areas.

I recently finished reading the book, Station 11 by Emily St. John Mandel. The book is about post-apocalyptic life after a pandemic. There’s emphasis on the role humanities play in our world with a graphic novel and traveling group of musicians/actors playing predominant roles in the storyline. It’s difficult to imagine a world without humanities. Characters in the book rely on the arts to give a dark world levity and hope. The arts are a uniting force that bridges language, culture and socioeconomic status. People meet on the common ground of their passions whether that’s books, music, theatre, dance or art which enriches our community and lives.

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