The greatest joy for me while being in lockdown has been “Lockdown School” with my nine-year-old grandniece, Emily. While I’m in my kitchen in Houston, she’s in her living room in Surrey, England—and with the magic of Zoom and a lot of help from Wikipedia—we meet once a week to learn and discuss American History.
Together we have covered a wide range of topics—the original colonies, Pearl Harbor, Native Americans, and the Wright Brothers, to name just a few. Emily was most concerned with the possible danger of quicksand and swarms of wasps on the Oregon Trail. The fate of most of the passengers on the Titanic made her very sad, but she was heartened by the heroics of the Unsinkable Molly Brown.
As for Amelia Earhart, Emily was pretty sure everyone thought she was daft for attempting to fly solo across the Atlantic, but also very brave. And when we discussed Amelia’s ill-fated last flight and the theories of what might have happened, Emily was pretty sure the aviator made it to an island where she married her navigator, Fred Noonan, and lived happily ever after.
Emily is a supersmart kid, funny, and so clever. Her vivid imagination has brought history to life for both of us. I have learned so much. Her impression of Helen Keller grabbing her throat and trying to speak was heart-wrenching. Our lesson this week was on the moon landing, and since she takes copious notes, I asked her to read back to me what she had written. She read: “The third spaceman, Michael Collins, stayed in the spaceship driving round and round, because there is no parking on the moon.”
Well done, Emily. I am so very proud of you.