Mr G, Mr B, Miss M, and Miss R get to do something that I would have just rolled over and died for.
They're helping on an archeological dig. It's not hugely historically significant, just local history.
Mr G and Mr B helped find and uncover the foundation wall of the greenhouse on the site we're working. (That's him working it there, next to the string used to mark the site.)
Mr G, being young and sturdy, got to be down in the hole, digging out the wall along its length, pulling out chunks of glazing from the greenhouse windows that had fallen to the ground.
He's actually disappointed that the next dig date he'll be at sleep-away camp. He's super excited about sleep-away camp, but ... he's gonna miss a dig. Dang.
And Mr B?
Likewise electrified by finding history in the dirt. He was working the surface of the wall, clearing it out so we could find out how far it went.
Speculating on where the corner would end, how big the building was, and then following the brick line to see where it actually ended, testing his theory.
Down on his knees, every bit of his attention focused on scraping down to get the top layer of dirt off, then sweeping it away to expose the shape of it.
No complaints. Trying to tear them away even to go get food in them was a challenge.
The experienced adults on the dig were skeptical that the joy of being on a dig would stick - they get a lot of kids, but they grow up a bit and then are too busy with other things to come back. I hope that my kids stick around for the rest of it. Granted, my kids are huge into history, too, so that should help. And it will be okay if they decide they have more important things to do.
They'll still have had a chance to do it, discover history they can touch, learn about how the process of recovering the past works.
Miss M and Miss R were less mentally engaged, even if they were totally there physically - they're not sure what we're doing other than digging up stuff, picking wormies out of the dirt going into the screens for sifting, or looking for chunks of coal or pottery shards.
But that's okay. They're 4. They're good at picking worms out and looking for coal and pottery shards (Miss R is working the screen, fishing out rocks, worms, and roots and searching for pottery shards and coal).
Miss M is even good at loading the dirt from the trench into the screen (which is what she'd doing here - she's in the long-sleeve purple shirt, bringing a trowel-load over).
And before anyone says 'wow, what cool parents to get their kids into something like this' - I take no credit for the experience. When I gave my mom the job of adding enchantment to their lives, she took it seriously. Part of that is the joy in discovery of the world that exploring presents. She'd have been on this fast...
But this isn't even my mom's range. This, in particular, is my sister's gift. My eldest sister does a lot of charitable work, and particularly enjoys getting physically involved with some of it. In this case, she learned about this dig (which is run by a non-profit), and thought it was a perfect situation for the kids to get involved. She's a contributing member to the non-profit. And we provide strong backs and not-so-weak minds to shovel and clear, dig, sift, and collect.
Mostly, we cleared the site and started two small new areas of digging for the dig season. That one trench managed to hit the greenhouse wall was cool. But for the most part, we found nothing interesting - a few pottery shards, some glass (period glass - turn of the century), a lot of coal. It's grubby, manual effort, with just a few moments of glee sprinkled about. It's also family time, working with mom and dad, aunties and Baba, and making friends across generations with others who came to dig. Mr G and Mr B worked mostly with a couple of older gentlemen - one probably easily in his 70's, the other nearer his 50's. We didn't supervise that, just let them get to work. More management was required for the girls, no shock.
Very satisfactory. I end up so grateful for family willing to engage my kids in their passions. Even if my kids never come back to the dig again, hopefully they'll remember, and have the roots of their lives forever tapped into digging in the dirt, and finding that history is something they can touch.