Halfway through Thanksgiving dinner it occurred to me: We don't have a kids table anymore. When I was a kid, all the parents ate in one spot, regardless of what house we were at, and all the kids huddled together around a set-up card table and basically talked amongst ourselves. This Thanksgiving, it was just one big table, with kids getting all kinds of attention as their various demands were met.
The kids table isn't just ostracization. It serves a real purpose. Everything the kids could possible need is sitting there on their table and they can practice at socializing amongst themselves, while the parents, who get to see each other all too rarely, get to actually talk amongst themselves.
Without the kids table? We spent so much time cutting up food and buttering bread and getting glasses of water and answering "what does that mean?" and listening to the answers to "How do you like school?" that we hardly had a chance to talk. Couple that with time spent watching the glorious Patriots victory, and the holiday flew right on by.
It seems we've lost the art of letting kids be self-sufficient. Instead of letting them run around the neighborhood playing three-on-three football and riding bikes, we script every second of their every day with organized sports and closely-watched activities. We arrange playdates, even for seven-year-olds. Why does a seven-year-old need a playdate? Can't they just run next door and see if the neighbor kid wants to play?
That's got to be damaging in the long run. If there is always a support structure, how do you learn to act independently? How do you gain the confidence in yourself to try something new, to speak up when you've got a new idea, to challenge the status quo? I don't think you do. I think you just learn to follow the rules and go along and always ask for help, whether you really need it or not.
I think kids can figure out how to cut up their own dang turkey. At the kids table.