Recently my daughter was scrolling through Pinterest, searching for something fun to bake, as so many of us have been doing recently. “Oooh, homemade Pop Tarts look really good,” she said, as she showed me the recipe’s photo. She began reading off the ingredient list as she peered into the pantry.
“What’s Crisco?” I heard her inquire, as my mind instantly flashed back to the big, blue-labeled tin with the slice of cherry pie on it that always sat in a low cabinet of our kitchen growing up, next to my Mom’s baking pans.
It struck me that she had no experience using shortening, an item that I’m fairly sure hasn’t been in our kitchen for a couple of decades. Admittedly, I am not even a semi-skilled pastry chef, and I guess I’ve done a decent job of trying to avoid trans fats in my home cooking.
My daughter had no idea what Crisco was
I easily decided that we could make an exception for hydrogenated oil during pandemic tedium, and the next day, as I watched my daughter begin to mix up flour, butter, and Crisco, I realized just how often our kids have embraced the practices and wisdom of their grandparents during these long months of sheltering in place.
My friends and I have observed our teen and young adult kids experiment in the kitchen like they’ve never done before. They have moved past the culinary simplicity of cookies and muffins and have learned how to bake bread like seasoned pros. They have created elaborate theme meals with dishes like homemade pizza and loaded nacho fries.
One friend and her teenaged daughters have started re-growing lettuce and celery from root ends planted in pots of soil on their kitchen windowsill. Another friend shared that her young adult daughter has started to hang their sheets out to dry on a line in the sun, an act that many of our parents regularly did years ago, and that very few of us have done since.
The kids have finally stepped away from their screens
While they’ve had to embrace technology in some innovative ways with so many of their present-day, face-to-face interactions unattainable, our kids have also taken up quite a number of “old-fashioned” activities. Making greeting cards at home, doing elaborate jigsaw puzzles, crafting, and decorating a friend’s driveway with chalk art for their birthday are just a few of the examples that I’ve witnessed my kids undertake in the last two months.
Better still, there have been times that they’ve consciously decided to walk away from their omnipresent screens, weary of the video games and the blur of colorful Instagram images to read a book for pleasure, take a long walk, ride a bike or a skateboard, or just lie on the grass in the backyard and stare up at the clouds for a while. Things our parents did because that was how you spent your leisure time, long before anyone was connected by high speed internet, relieving their boredom with voyeuristic dives into the lives of virtual “friends.”
Through a forced upheaval of their way of life, our kids have come to comprehend a few truths that our parents always knew.
Life can be painfully difficult at times and the only way past those difficulties is to walk directly through them. Distractions can only keep uncomfortable feelings at bay for so long.
Face-to-face connection cannot truly be duplicated in any authentic way. Seeing and hearing a loved one on a screen can bring a certain amount of pleasure and gratitude, but nothing will ever replace a physical hug or shared tears with another person.
Take absolutely nothing for granted.
Life can and does change on a dime, whether you’re 76 years old or merely 16.
They have learned the value of patience
We have the innate ability to create our own joy. Momentary happiness can absolutely come from a beautiful, new pair of shoes, a night out at a concert with best friends, or a family trip to Disneyland. But that bliss is fleeting. What is permanent is our capacity to conjure that delight and remind ourselves that we can choose contentment wherever we are, and whenever life seems challenging or overwhelming.
Our kids may at one time have viewed much of their grandparents’ lives as tedious and slow, devoid of so much convenience and excitement. But now that they’ve faced challenges like they never imagined they would, they are also gaining a brilliant perspective on what is important and what they can live without.
A slow pace can fuel creativity and produce a deep calm.
They have come to realize what a valuable skill patience is, and that it is developed through sitting with uncertainty and frustration. Our children, having come of age in a world of escalating instant-gratification, have come to appreciate that even with Amazon delivery and Netflix streaming, we still have to wait patiently for some of the best things in life. Things, like human connection.
May this new-found wisdom of their grandparents remain deep in the souls of our children, even when they are firmly rejoined with a new reality that is busy, exciting, and full of conveniences once again.
And if you’ve never tasted a Crisco-infused, homemade Pop Tart, I highly recommend them.
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