Wednesday, April 15, 2015

Women in History: He Chose Frida!

Like a lot of children his age, my eight year old doesn't pick up his towel after his shower, he forgets where he left his library books, and begs for extra video game time. When it comes to school work, Spanish, music and sports...he's quite good at all he does. We are really proud of him. And like all moms, despite my son's forgetfulness and silliness, I think my kid is quite remarkable! But just recently, I have to admit, I had one of my proudest mami moments of all time.

About a month ago, I picked Diego up late from school and his 2nd grade teacher just happened to walk out with him. She had a huge smile on her face and yelled from a distance, "Diego picked Frida Kahlo!" I threw my hands in the air and created a little fist pump action because I knew exactly what she was talking about. As he climbed into the car he said to me, "It's true! My doll project will be on Frida!" You would have thought he said he just received a full scholarship to attend a prestigious university for the summer! The news to me was that exciting! That fantastic! He wasn't assigned Frida Kahlo, he chose Friday Kahlo and I was bursting with pride.

Every academic year, Diego's school has the 2nd grade class focus on a major Women in History research and art project. For about a month, the students are asked to research, read and write about a famous woman who has contributed to society in a very meaningful way. Queens, First Ladies, athletes and scientists are all represented. The second grade parents and the Kindergarten through 5th grade classes are invited for a special assembly to listen to a one minute speech given by each 2nd grader on their special woman. It's a pretty big deal! They also have to create a doll in school by using a full bottle of hand dishwashing liquid as the base and making her appear as closely as the woman would appear in life. Reading, writing, creative work, music, and public speaking are all tied in to this unit wonderfully.

I was so proud that Diego was so confident in front of everyone at the assembly and spoke clearly of the artist, Frida Kahlo. The doll was just as stylish as Frida was in real life! I was also proud because for years I have been sharing my passion for Mexican culture to my boys in any way that I can. They have been listening to me talk in Spanish, I have been sharing books with them in Spanish, they have learned about Mexican costumbres...and I was starting to wonder if it really works. Are we too removed? Do they even care? Does it all even matter? Being away from family has made me work even harder to teach them about all things Mexico because I believe it's important they know their grandparent's stories. But do they really get it?

Diego is the only Latino in the 2nd grade and Frida was the only Mexican represented in the group of influential Women in History. Last week, I finally understood that it's all really working.

We need our kids to continue to see the contributions Latinos have made in history and it has to start at home. Because Diego decided to share all he learned about Frida Kahlo, others now know a little more about her too. Because Diego decided to learn all about Frida and put her in a group of very accomplished and successful women, he now understands even more just how amazing she was. Frida Kahlo is an influential Woman in History.

That night after the presentation, I thought it was remarkable when Diego mentioned to me that Frida was never represented in past Women in History assemblies at his school. I didn't make a big deal about her being Mexican, about him being Latino, about any responsibilities he must take on, or anything like that. We just talked about what an awesome woman she was and how much she contributed despite her disease and her accident. We talked about her intriguing paintings and how all the picture books depict her in gorgeous colors. We just talked.

It's working. My boys might not listen when I ask for them to please pick up their towels...but when we speak at home about our passions and our culture...they are listening.

Betty Galvan, is writing "for smart and stylish moms" over