Has anyone else noticed that we're living in a culture of "now?" Let me give you a little background: My daughter will often say something to the effect of: "Mommy, I'd like to learn to knit." Typically, my response would be, "That sounds like a fun idea." She will then reply with, "I want to learn now." And when she says now, she means that instant. She actually expects me to go find my knitting needles, wherever they lurk in our storage closet, and start showing her 'the ropes' of knitting... or sewing or buying her school supplies, etc.
This isn't a one-time expectation either. I often find myself trying to untangle a web my daughter has woven around me. She asks to do something, and its not meant as a planning statement. There's no putting a pin in anything. She expects me to get up that instant and "make it so." I'll be the first to admit that some days I can be a little slow to start. However, typically she's trying to get me to do something right now when I'm already in the middle of something like book editing or writing or reading (three of my favorite things!).
My daughter is 9 years old. She does not have an email or a Facebook page account, but she does play on the internet. She has a Webkinz account and some other accounts on sites recommended by her school. Remember when we were thrilled to play the super exciting and fast-paced Oregon Trail? Yea... you get my sarcasm... However, my daughter learns how to navigate the web. They work on math problems, watch educational videos, and actually have homework to complete on school-recommended sites. I rarely find text books in her classroom. While practice work is in a work book, research projects are rarely done via the library. And let's face it, doing work on the web gives them instant answers.
Instant answers! No more looking things up in the alphabetical index at the back of the book to find the page number where the topic I want is discussed and then slowly flipping over to page 65, oops - that's page 67, couple more licks of the finger and flips, and there! My answer!
Nope. Its an easy search-engine answer. Type: Knitting + *click* = Multiple links appear like magic.
I can understand why my daughter is constantly asking to do something "now." She's being trained that if she wants something, she can click a website and find out the answer. This too easily translates into home life. If she wants to learn something from me, she expects it to be done now. I try to say, "I'm sorry, darling, but a skill like knitting is going to take time. Its not a quick here's what you do, here are the needles, have fun!" It takes work. And work is hard!!! It takes dedication and perseverance.
When working on my first novel, there were times I was frustrated with a writing block or a plot point I was having difficulties resolving. A few times, I just wanted to call it quits for a few months! However, there was a VeggieTales skit that kept running through my head about perseverance (we like VeggieTales at our house). It was the silent film skit about a piano delivery man trying to carry a piano up a ginormous flight of stairs. When I began to get frustrated, I replayed that skit in my head. It helped me keep moving. Honestly! It just took a simple recharge with some humorous entertainment. Even if I could not solve something right away, I made a point to at least work on something - whether it be another scene, research, or reviewing publishing options. I kept my eyes on the prize. And it worked!
Onto teaching my kids... wow, its quite an uphill battle that they do not want to undertake. Remember when our parents talked about the uphill journey to school and back from school - both ways? Parents of today face this challenge with getting our kids to work at finding an answer and to engage in things that are not instantly resolved. On top of teaching them that mommy's tasks cannot be instantly set aside for something they want which is not urgent (like a bleeding limb or homework due within an hour or tickets for Episode VII that went on sale)... but that's another topic!
Not everything can be answered simply and quickly. Many answers come by thoughtful musings and personal discoveries. This is a skill they will need to practice. They will also need to see it modeled through me. I talk to them about my writing and how hard it can be (even now with book 2). I hope that I can give them a focus and determination to work past the "now," past the google-quick answers, and past the simplicity.
Maybe we should all start teaching our kids to write a book! It takes a lot of work, re-work, and research. It takes time and effort. But the end proves to be incredibly rewarding.