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Don’t Make it Look Easy

November 27, 2013

By Sarah Maraniss Vander Schaaff

Lately, I’ve been able to look at the approaching holiday from a range of perspectives. My kindergartener got to make butter and hold a Thanksgiving feast. My third grader got to sing songs about turkeys. And I got to go to three grocery stores and wait in checkout lines.

It’s my turn, of course, and every parent comes to gain new appreciation for their own parents when they have to figure out how to fit a turkey and six pounds of mashed potatoes into a refrigerator.

This year, though, I’m not making it all look so easy. I’m asking my eight-year-old to help me plan the day. We’ll work backwards from mealtime and figure out when we need to start cooking the turkey, reheat those mashed potatoes, bake the pie, and set the table.

It may take some of the magic out of the final meal, no longer appearing before her like an instant Norman Rockwell painting on demand, but it will remind her of the process we must take to arrive at the table.

One comment I have heard from teachers, both of academic subjects and of the arts, is that while “kids are kids”, the one change they have seen in this new era is the decreased comfort with prolonged effort. There is a desire to be an instant expert, instead of a confused novice. It makes sense. So many of their desires are fulfilled in an instant: from finding information to creating a work of art. They are able to skip “process” and go from impulse to completion.

I can’t say my eight-year-old dove into my Thanksgiving planning session with the enthusiasm of a budding Martha Stewart. But I hope it showed her that many things—from feasts to poems-are not created with the push of a button.

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