Our newest specimen came from my son’s social studies assignment: memorize the Preamble of the Constitution. We’ve all had to do it. But thankfully for us who grew up with School House Rock, this is an easy and nearly fun assignment. I still have that familiar tune tucked away in the back of my memory; right next to the day I discovered I was allergic to cats and the taste of caviar.
“We the people, in order to form a more perfect union, establish justice, ensure domestic tranquility, provide for the common defense, promote the general welfare, and secure the blessings of liberty to ourselves and our posterity, do ordain and establish this constitution for the United States of America.”
Preamble memorized. Done. But what does it mean? I wanted to take the assignment a step further and explain what some of the words and ideas in the Preamble meant in a manner a sixth grader and an eavesdropping third grader would understand.
One of the few times I get with my older two kids, without the persistent pestering from my 5-year-old, is in our driveway waiting for the school bus. They are fresh and bored enough to listen to what I have to say. It’s a good time to review school lessons and instill life lessons.
I explain, “Tranquility means peace…Defense means protection…Posterity means those who come behind you. Have you heard of the word posterior?”
“No. What does posterior mean?”
“Posterior is another word for your rear,” I said. Eyes light up and the Preamble takes on a whole new interest. “It’s your whole backside actually. So your posterity is the people who come behind you, who come after you.”
Then it clicks into place. “So we are your posterity,” says my 11-year-old son.
“And Dad is Nana’s posterior,” my 8-year-old chimes in.
“Well, that could be argued but, yes. You get the idea,” I confirmed.
As the kids climbed onto the bus, I had to chuckle, feeling well-pleased with my morning lesson; life, liberty and a new word for our rear end collection. Chalk one up for Mom’s liberal arts education.