I am a geek.
In fact, I'm a geek on so many levels it's hard to know where to start. I've got a fair amount of sci fi geekness, a strong streak of grammar geekness, and a mountain of English lit geekness (actually, make that medieval lit geekness, which is worse because it means that somewhere along the line I actually learned Old English). The list is kinda endless.
I'm also a geography geek. And this week, that's a very cool thing to be. 'Cause it's Geography Awareness Week, and you can get free maps.
I love maps.
I come by this particular geekness quite honestly. For one thing, I grew up following my dad around the world. His work took him to India, Bangladesh, the Philippines. When I was 11, my sister and I flew to Manila all by ourselves. Unaccompanied minors jetting off around the world to visit our dad.
But it's not just about the traveling. My dad and stepmom, they have always loved this world of ours, and they made sure to share that love with us kids. And their house, it was a haven for a map geek. Maps out the wazoo. I still remember, in Bangladesh, there was only one spot in the whole house with the right kind of outlet for my hair dryer. It was right in front of a great big map of the world. No mirror; just a map. I was a teenage girl with - well, with hair - so I spent a lot of time in front of that map, exploring the world and trying to get my hair to feather back just so.
When I was a kid, I decided it would be fun to learn all 50 states in alphabetical order. I'd sit and list them out whenever I was bored. I even memorized the capitals to go along - in the order of their states -and let me tell you, that's a serious accomplishment. Montgomery ... Juneau ... Phoenix ... you can look up the rest.
By the time I got to college I could list 120 countries from memory, continent by continent. I'd keep myself awake in class by writing down every country I could remember. Though I'll admit, the Soviet Union did make that an easier task than it would be today.
The world's pretty darn important. And those maps, they open your eyes in a pretty special way.
My kids get the world, and I love that. In part, that's because we've been using au pairs for childcare since my littlest one was born. Seven au pairs from six different countries. My kids have an extended family that spans the globe. They can say "Sweet dreams" in German and "Stop tickling me!" in Japanese. They've danced around a maypole at midsummer. They eat Nutella and celebrate birthdays with Brazilian brigadeiro. Our lovely new au pair is Belgian, and I can't wait for the kids (and me!) to learn a little Dutch.
Even better? They can pick out every one of those countries - and several more - on a map.
So print out a great big map. Put it up, and teach your kids to love the world.
And, for the record? It's Alabama Alaska Arizona Arkansas California Colorado Connecticut Delaware Florida Georgia Hawaii Idaho Illinois Indiana Iowa Kansas Kentucky Louisiana Maine Maryland Massachusetts Michigan Minnesota Mississippi Missouri Montana Nebraska Nevada New Hampshire New Jersey New Mexico New York North Carolina North Dakota Ohio Oklahoma Oregon Pennsylvania Rhode Island South Carolina South Dakota Tennessee Texas Utah Vermont Virginia Washington West Virginia Wisconsin and Wyoming. And no, the District of Columbia is not on the list.