I admit it. I have been brainwashing my grandchildren since birth. I tell genealogy stories constantly. I choose ancestors with stories that I hope will excite them or enthrall them or make them curious. I repeat the same stories as many times as my grandkids want to hear them.
It's amazing what they remember, and what they love to hear. Every year on their annual summer visits to our farm they beg me for the same stories over and over.
"Tell us the story again about our ancestor who walked Niagara Falls on a tightrope"
"Gramma tell us about our ancestor who fought in the War of 1812"
"Gramma which ancestor was it who was killed by a fish? Tell that story again!" (Doubters, this is a true story. I have a newspaper clipping of the tragic yet bizarre fish incident in which my great grandfather's cousin was killed by a sturgeon)
Winner is the child who gets the most names correct and can give the correct relationship (example: That's my Great great grandma Ruth).
For those who think there shouldn't be winners versus losers, I'll let you in on a secret - children love competitions. They love to win. The grandchild who doesn't come first will almost certainly try harder next time or listen more attentively when I talk about each ancestor.
Did you notice I said we only play this as a competition with the children over age 10? Children over the age of 10 understand winning and not winning. They don't cry when they don't win. With the younger children I make it like the game "I Spy." Only my version is called "I Spy With My Genealogy Eye". Notice that we don't spy with our "little" eye, we spy with our "genealogy" eye!
My 6 year old grandson loves this game. He takes his turn with "I spy with my genealogy eye, an ancestor who is Gramma Ollie's Grandma" (I'm Gramma Ollie) Then the rest of us have to point to the correct person in the photos.
Even my 3 year old grandson tries to play but he doesn't quite get it yet. His version goes like this "I spying with my all-a-gee eye, something like a lady in a dress" But that's okay because as soon as one of us in the game picks the right "lady in a dress" I make sure I name the person they chose.
"Oh that's Grandma Ruth! Good going, you chose Grandma Ruth with your genealogy eye"
Yes it's called brainwashing. Being a parrot. Repeating what you want your grandchildren to remember. If their attention span can handle it, I add a bit along the lines of "Grandma Ruth was my grandmother. She's your great-grandmother" I've usually lost them by this time but some of it will sink in.
Somebody has to take my 10 filing cabinet drawers of genealogy documents and my stacks of unsorted genealogy papers at some point in time...
And so I brainwash my grandchildren with stories and games like "I Spy With My Genealogy Eye." Fingers crossed that one will pick up the torch and carry on.