I started re-enacting in 1991, when my girls were 5, 2 and 2; so they’ve been around the re-enactment scene for most of their lives.
Re-enactment has taught them to be self-reliant, to research and critique things (one of my daughters is a teacher), do risk assessments, make a fire, sew, embroider (one of my daughter’s first embroidery was better than my best after 20 years!), work timber, work metal (another of my daughters is a blacksmith), cook, negotiate and talk to people (visitors at events we attend).
Re-enactment has been a vehicle for passing on skills that a parent should pass on to a child and has made it easier, interesting, and more relevant.
After a few years’ sabbatical I started re-enacting again, this time with my father, my partner and two of my daughters (the third was living interstate at the time) and we had a small (but informative!) family-based re-enactment group going.
One of my daughters and I even dabbled in WWI re-enactment when another daughter moved overseas.
After taking another short break from re-enactment, daughter number three moved back to Brisbane – an opportunity to give the group bit of a re-vamp. Instead of a static display in our period tent ( made up of 25,000 words!) we decided to have the group portray an extended family’s living quarters traveling in 1229 on pilgrimage to the Holy Land (facilitated by the Knights Templar’s invitation to join them and be their ‘pilgrims’).
This has meant that, in between teaching and being a mother, my girls have been sewing costumes, embroidering, beading, leather working, (hand) sewing another tent…and all the other necessities to get a believable encampment up and running. My daughters have become adept researchers and can rattle off a list of museums and resources that make my eyes cross. They have also become used to the annoyance of re-making items when new information – that indicates it’s not as good as it could be (or is just plain wrong!)- comes to light.
Re-enactment has taught them that nothing’s certain, nothing’s set in stone, and to always have a back-up plan!
Now we’ve got the next generation coming along – my 4-year old grand-daughter is learning to sew, and she and her younger brother understand about knives and sharp things, fires, manners… and the cycle is beginning again.
Mother’s Day is so much more special when you have a connection like this with your children and grandchildren – I look forward to it every year.
Mim has been re-enacting for over 20 years and is currently part of re-enactment group, Oltramar. You can catch Mim and her daughters at History Alive: A Journey Through Time 2015 at the Knights Templar encampment.