Wednesday, August 31, 2011

dress them well : a great beginning source

I thought I'd start the "Dress them Well" posts by sharing a link to the Historical Costuming for Children LiveJournal community.  There are several contributors, sharing their garb perspectives on a wide variety of age groups, periods (even outside of the SCA period) and authenticity levels.  This is a recent find for me, so I'm still discovering new links, but here are a few that I find inspiring as a start:

More kids garb photos, (eleanor_deyeson)
The boy shall be dressed at his ease, (chargirlgenius)
Toddler dresses and hood, (birchduck)

There are plenty more- check it out!

Sunday, August 28, 2011

lesson learned : "hold" for your children

The SCA uses a safety word on the fields, lists and ranges that means all within the area must immediately stop because someone is in danger of being hurt, or something is causing a hazard.  The word is "hold", and usually, when one person yells it, others spot the danger themselves and yell it as well.

Recently, my husband, D, and I learned from a mother we respect (whose child is no longer a toddler) that "hold" works for keeping your children safe as well.  We were set up near the archery range, where D, my mother and I were all shooting in turn.  This is the first time we had set up near the range, and O was unfamiliar with the situation.  Each time he spotted his Daddy at the line, he would run to him.  This, of course, made me panic each time, but I only ever yelled "O, stop!"  This was usually enough to get D to turn around as well, but it did not affect the other archers in the same way.  In fact, I'm sure that a few of them were irritated by the distracting yell, oblivious to how close O was to running into the range.

Explaining our frustration about how O did not listen, and how afraid we were at the danger in which he placed himself, our friend told us a similar story, and we were comforted that we were not alone.  When we mentioned that we feared yelling "hold", since we didn't want to interrupt everyone, she shook her head.  No, she said, that's what "hold" is for.  It's better to yell hold when a child is about to enter danger, than to yell something else that may not work, and those who needed to be award of the danger remain oblivious.

We have not had an opportunity to put her advice into practice, but the lesson is learned.  No one will fault you for yelling "hold" where the safety of your child is concerned.

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

merry market : wooden dragon toy

From Armadillo Dreams
Hand-made from poplar and painted with non-toxic watercolors, this dragon toy can boast of being event-friendly as well as eco-friendly!  Even better? Each one is made to order!

also from Armadillo Dreams
How about a wooden Gameboy for those older kids?  Its intended to be a teething toy, but giving your 10-year old one would make a great practical joke!

Sunday, August 21, 2011

authenticity for parents : developing your child's persona

At some point, your anachronist teen will undoubtedly say, "I think I'd like to do a [___] persona," at which point you'll happily encourage them to research it and you'll support them (knowing full well they'll probably outgrow it soon).  Until that day, however, you wield a mighty power.  YOU get to decide your child's persona.  And, oh, what an awesome power this is!

Being able to play dress-up with our children can be a fun experience, especially if your child enjoys putting on funny clothes for a day, and it's easy to get carried away with the idea of making miniature versions of the garb you never made for yourself.  After the child turns 3, however, your urges to "experiment" with garb and accessories on your child run the risk of back-firing on you.  The reason is simple- your child has the opportunity to develop a persona, same as you.

Sometimes the child's personality clues you in on their persona.  A young girl that loves how events make her feel like a princess rules out personas, such as Norse or Middle Eastern, that are not "classic" or "romantic" to a young one familiar with the world of the Disney.  She'll be more comfortable and happy in a 14th century context, where she can wear pretty dresses, or 15th century Italian, where she can have her hair braided with ribbons.  Another example? A rowdy boy who's hard on his clothes is well suited to a Viking persona, where you can encourage him to learn about real Vikings and in turn hone his pugnacious tendencies.  Since his garb will be simple rectangular construction, it's easy to make and repair as needed.

Other times, your child's physique will help determine a persona.  My son, Owen, is lean, with a long torso and neck.  Putting him in Viking garb is a crime, since he's built for the long, tight silhouette of the 14th century cotehardie.  In Owen's case, his loving and personable disposition also fits this persona- he's the model of Arthurian chivalry in miniature form.  This doesn't always work, though.  A girl with a tom-boy attitude and natural curves may look better in Middle Eastern, but perhaps the layers aren't her style and make her feel awkward.  This is where your work as the parent in developing your child's persona comes into play.

There's no need to wait until your child makes their own decision on what persona they prefer to encourage them to read about all the cultures they could settle on.  There are hundreds of children's books available that focus on the medieval period.  Not all of them are particularly accurate in their history, but exposing your young child to the basics is a great start.  There are even some movies geared towards children that offer unique perspectives on medieval culture, such as The Secret of Kells or the forthcoming Brave.  Encourage their interest by asking if they liked the clothes or other facets of the culture shown.  If you get a non-committal response, that's a good indication that the interest just isn't there.

Not all children will develop persona's early on, and for those who do, there is, unfortunately, no guarantee that they would stick with it for any length of time anyway.  Your role is to respect your child's opinion and monitor their comfort level, and to help them discover the vast world of possibility with medieval recreation.  This holds true for your teens as well, just include a stern belief that any persona they chose to pursue (and therefore spend [your] money on) is well-researched and not just a trend or ploy to get noticed by their peers.

Remember also that you'll go a long way with this process by practicing what you preach.  Don't enforce a strict persona on your children, but not put the same effort into your own persona.  Children, after all, learn by example!  Also, don't assume that your child wants your persona.  Sure, it may make you feel good to have a miniature version of yourself to parade around at events, but not at the expense of their interest in medieval recreation.  They may have no real interest in your chosen period, and forcing them into it means they miss out on one they may like better.  The more they like the whole dressing up and going to events thing as children, the more likely they are to retain it as a hobby when they are older.