On Monday, when I picked Eva up from kindergarten, she very excitedly began to tell me all about what she learned in Language Arts class. She said they discussed fiction vs non-fiction, and read one of each kind of book. The fiction was a Clifford book ("I wasn't so interested in that" she said, glossing over it entirely). The non-fiction book was about "a time when people were forced to work without being paid". It's so unfair, she said, that people would treat each other that way.
The book was about one such girl, Hallea Barrelman, she said, who had to start working when she was just six years old. Eva went on to tell me everything she knew about Hallea Barrelman, and from the extent of the details she provided, I could tell this made a real impression on her: "She would even get whipped if the thread broke when she was spinning yarn, can you believe that?" "She was so brave that even after she got her freedom, she went back to help other people get free too." She told me all about the Underground Railroad ("not a real railroad for trains, but a bunch of houses one after the other"), and had so many details she talked for longer than it must have taken to hear the book in the first place. She asked if we could learn more about Hallea Barrelman on the internet when we got home. ("... and she was a nurse! There was a big war -- did you know the North won? And when they were escaping, they had to walk across whole *states*! And....")
I'd never heard this name before, but then again, I don't know the story of every freed slave ever recorded. I asked if she was sure about the name. She was. Definitely.
After some creative googling, I turned to her as she ate her after school snack: "Eva, was her name possibly Harriet Tubman?"
"Oh, yeah. Right, Harriet Tubman," she said, not even looking up from her carrots and hummus.
Barrel, tub... they're pretty much the same. A fun peek into how her brain works -- she visualized it, I guess, and then substituted a synonym. And she has no frame of reference for the name Harriet I suppose, so just made her best guess. (Reminds me of the other day when she said she thought Tom was "a pretty unusual name." It's all in what you hear around you.)
I can't quite do it justice, but it was just so sweet how excited she was to tell me about this new amazing thing she'd learned. I heard more about Hallea Barrelman than I've heard about anything so far in kindergarten -- even more than about chocolate milk! And, after reading through a biography online together, I have to say, Eva did in fact have all the various details correct. All, except... the name.
I have a feeling that someday when she's 24 she'll be rolling her eyes at me saying "oh Mom, not the Hallea Barrelman story again!"