You Wouldn’t Want to Be Descended From a Spanish Conquistador… But WaitPosted by Kim
The boys are huge fans of the You Wouldn’t Want to… book series.
For those of you who have some how MISSED these gems, they include such greats as You Wouldn’t Want to Be a World War II Pilot: Air Battles You Might Not Survive (currently on our shelf), You Wouldn’t Want to Be an 18th Century Convict: A Trip to Australia You’d Rather Not Take (No offense to my Australian readers – ie. Von.), and You Wouldn’t Want to Be Mary Queen of Scots: A Ruler Who Really Lost Her Head.
Check your local library. They’re awesome. Especially for boys.
But anyway. Fred and I – but especially I, ’cause I’m prone to such things as extensive geneological researching, and also spend nearly all my time with said children — have been very conscious of the fact that giving them a thorough connection to their own roots is very important.
And that that means doing some extra research. Because their roots are not our roots (though they’re welcome to partake in all our Euro-straight-to-U.S.-American fun-and-games, of course!)
So we’ve read about Guatemala, TRAVELED back to Guatemala, read about the Maya, CLIMBED their pyramids, studied Spanish… I’m still looking for a socially acceptable way of asking some of the Latino men I know just what it is that they’re wearing that smells so good, so I can buy it to put on the boys (who frequently smell like sweat and “tootle”)… but I digress…
We’ve done a pretty good job of covering the Native American angle of their biological heritage. And of presenting it as the very cool heritage that it, indeed, is (human sacrificing notwithstanding).
So I’m on to the Spanish part of their background. Spanish from SPAIN, that is. And to that end, I’ve been watching the PBS Home Video: Conquistadors series after we put them to bed the last few nights (available on Netflix “Watch Instantly,” for those of you who are interested!).
I just don’t know how I’m supposed to pleasantly tie in “and then SOME of your ancestors came in and absolutely decimated the villages of others of your ancestors, raping and pillaging as they went!” ["raping" is going to be especially hard to explain, since the idea of "sex" is still appropriately hazy in their minds].
I know I don’t have to explain it all while they’re six years old. We could just “leap over the Atlantic” and study Spain as a completely separate entity and leave “how the two sides mixed” to a future date?
But while I don’t want to inflict undue distress, I’m also more inclined to be honest with our kids. They’ve learned about the Conquistadors in a separate (glossed over, some would say “Euro-centric”) manner in our school co-op.
So they’re waiting for me to make the connection.
There’s a lot of courage, I suppose. Curiousity about new things. Boldly going where no European has gone before?
It’s funny, because some of MY OWN ancestors (English) were fairly brutal to my others (Scottish), and I’ve had no problem feeling comfortable taking sides (“You take the High Road, and I’ll take the Low Road…”) while still maintaining a sense of connectednes to all of them (just ask Fred and the boys about my tea-drinking habits).
Perhaps because it’s perfectly acceptable here in the U.S. to side with the underdog while still trying to keep in mind all sides of an issue?
But this is THEIR heritage, THEIR story, not mine.
So how do I present the “other half” in equally positive terms, despite-but-honestly-covering the atrocities that eventually resulted in their being born, just as they are – “Mestizos de Guatemala?” Even if not today, at some point it’s gonna come up.