Did you know there's a new course being offered in some of our schools? Indeed there is, and it's called "Grit." It seems one very good predictor of success is how an individual overcomes hardships. But modern day kids don't seem to really have hardships--at least not middle and upper class children, and not in the traditional sense.* I'm not sure how I feel about this idea of teaching it in school, but I do think it behooves us as parents and grandparents to tell the stories of our parents and grandparents. They really knew about GRIT.
My husband is from the South Plains of Texas. Most early settlers there were cotton farmers and his family was no exception. They came to the south plains in the early part of the last century. It seems his father and grandparents didn't throw anything away. My husband has been going through boxes of papers and photos and is currently trying to organize it and tell the story of his ancestors. I'll share a letter from his great-grandmother to her children. It really captures the grit of which I speak:
I realize you can't read that photo copy, so I'll type it here in part. It truly captures the hardships of her life:
"Comanche tx R3
Dear children, Will answer your kind letter that we received and read with pleasure. Well, hope you all are well. We are having warm weather and we have a rain and it turns cold. Gardens are late. The bugs and worms are eating all the stuff. Of most of all birds. Have had sand storms and hail and big rains north of town. The hail killed Tom Fagan's cotton. Last week the sand killed their cotton. They all have to plant over. The boy sure is up against it. Times is hard around here. Ollie had to plant most of his and it never came up. There will be some berries. Mr. Tipps has planted his melons over two or three times. They haven't got no stand--the bugs and worms are eating them up. I talked to Mirtie and she said they had planted their water melons over about 4 times and did not know whether they would make any or not. Grain crops are good here...I guess they will go to cutting this week. Wish I could see you all. . . "
Besides the family photos and the letters, my husband also has the cotton sacks that his family used when pulling cotton, They are quite long, probably five feet, and you dragged them across the field with you. I can imagine it was a tiring, dusty job. And all the family participated.
One doesn't have to go back generations to tell stories of grit. My husband can tell his story as well. He remembers when he was about five years old, he joined his parents pulling cotton. His mother even made him his own bag to carry. He remembers getting paid a shiny half dollar for a day's work. When he was older, he would ride his bike to the farm to pull cotton and probably earned a silver dollar! Our grandkids should know this story!
Tell your own stories of grit!
I know most of you can tell your grandchildren your own stories of grit. Most of my readers are children of the Greatest Generation. Those people endured a Great Depression and a world war. They certainly have stories of endurance and bravery. And our grandchildren and great-grandchildren should know our stories as well--whether we had to get up early to deliver morning newspapers to babysitting children for a mere $.50 an hour. And many of you can tell your stories of Viet Nam. There are other hardships as well that only you can tell...that only you know. Share that--it really is important.
Tell the old stories first!
Our ancestors deserve that. As my husband and I have read his family's old letters, we realize how these people from a couple of generations ago toiled and labored. We need to know that--we need to be reminded of that. And certainly share with our children, grandchildren, and great-grandchildren. It's very important that they learn about their heritage. Please share your stories of GRIT!
"Grit is not just simple elbow-grease term for endurance. It is an often invisible display of endurance that lets you stay in an uncomfortable place, work hard to improve upon a given interest and do it again and again." Sarah Lewis
"Your dreams are on the other side of your grit." Anonymous
* A final word~
I mentioned that today's generation may not have hardships, but I know that's not true. They often face the same hardships as other generations faced--their parent losing a job, a move to another town, an illness of a loved one, or parents just trying to make ends meet. And they also have to deal with day-to-day stress whether it be a failing grade, not making the athletic team, or not getting a part in a play. Children of all ages need to know how to deal with that, and that those things are just part of life. They need to develop grit........parents and grandparents can assist with that. Tell your stories--they need to know!
"Fun Fact" addition to this week's blog:
I often ask a friend to proofread my blog. This week I asked my friend Kathy. She had a fun story to tell about this subject. She was born in Childress, Texas, and her grandparents leased land in that area for cotton farming. When the cotton was ready, her mother would often help the family out by "pulling bolls." When she did, she sometimes pulled Kathy behind her on her cotton sack. Sure wish I had a picture of that!
Retired school teacher and now full time grandmother sharing ideas and looking for new ones about grandparenting!