This past week has been about differentiating what is real from the unreal to my children. I explained to my daughter that mermaids are not real, but dolphins are. I then explained to my other daughter that squids are real but giant squids taken over by animated characters are not. Then, I explained to my son that kings and roundtables are real, King Arthur may or may not have been real, but Merlin’s magic is definitely not real. I thought about how much of their world has yet to be sorted in terms of reality and fantasy. I’m not sure if that process ever really ends; in fact, it only gets more complicated.
In my teaching, I’ve been focusing on laws and regulations vs. self-censorship and which has more influence over the restrictions of free speech. I also have discussed ideologies of motherhood and how they shape perceptions of what “real” mothers are to different cultures. Our perceptions of what is real based on assumptions (both individual and cultural) can be skewed from the facts on the ground.
Thanksgiving is one of those liminal spaces. While it might be easier to explain to a child that mermaids are not real, it’s more difficult to explain the history and construction of Thanksgiving. Do I explain Thanksgiving as a national holiday? Where does Black Friday fall? I choose to use this time to talk about thanks- that seems a valuable topic where consensus can be reached.
So, as Thanksgiving is about to start I should say I’m thankful to be surrounded by people who force me to question the real in my life and for the comments on this blog from those of you who wrestle with, question, and challenge ideas I’ve put forth.