I’ve never talked to my kids about ANZAC Day. Up until now, I’ve felt comfortable raising them in a bubble. They are too little I’ve told myself time and time again, to understand the world isn’t all playdough and playgrounds.
But I know my role as a mother is to teach them more than that; to raise grateful, respectful and thoughtful little humans. Now that my eldest son is almost five and my youngest almost three, it’s time I told them about ANZAC Day. Here are five things I am hoping to teach them, in a child-friendly way.
1. A is for ANZAC, not A holiday
When April 25 rolls around and we’re all home together from work and kindy, I will explain this day isn’t a holiday. It’s ANZAC Day, and that means it is a day of remembrance and thankfulness. They can have fun, but I want them to understand that this is a significant day. As such, we’ll do some special things that day, like paint red poppies, visit our local war memorial and make ANZAC biscuits. My aim is for them to simply understand it isn’t just an ordinary day.
2. Why we make ANZAC biscuits
My boys love getting messy in the kitchen, so this is a great opportunity for me to talk to them while making some ANZAC biscuits. I will tell them how they live in a wonderful, safe country, where they can go to playgrounds and school, but this is because of what special people called soldiers did for them. I don’t think I’ll explain war and death to them beyond what I feel they can handle (maybe, that the soldiers fought to keep our country safe), but rather the importance of saying thank you and being grateful for the life they have. When they are older I will explain what a great sacrifice this truly was.
While making the biscuits I will explain that the soldiers ate these instead of bread thanks to their mummies and wives, who sent them these biscuits in a care package while they were away from home fighting. I’ll tell them how they were good ‘soldier food’ because they don’t contain milk or eggs and that the soldiers didn’t have a fridge.
3. Why poppies are special flowers
We will make a poppy picture using red paint for the flowers and green for the stems. As we do this I will explain that these pretty red flowers grew where the soldiers were fighting. I will tell them how people wear poppies to show they are remembering the soldiers on ANZAC Day and that by painting a picture of them now, they are too.
4. What a wreath represents
There’s a playground in the war memorial park near us. Every year leading up to ANZAC Day, people leave wreaths on the memorial steps. I’ll take the boys to this playground for a play and while we are there, we’ll look at the circles of flowers and chat about why they are there. I’ll also point out the gold squares on the memorial and how each one represents a soldier who used to live nearby who fought so that they could play in the playground today.
5. The importance of feeling grateful and to say thank you
In all this I want them to know how lucky they are and to be thankful for the life they have. I won’t be taking them to a service as I don’t feel they are ready for that yet (plus one of my sons has autism and I worry about making a scene), but we will hold a little family memorial. We will hold hands and try not to talk for a minute to remember the soldiers. I hope this role playing will instil in them the importance of the day and of paying their respects.
Lest we forget.