The Great Barrens

Daughter went all out on her social studies project. She went to Michael’s a week before it was due to purchase supplies: wooden dowels, ribbon, beads, hot glue, and various other accessories for a scroll-like map of the Fertile Crescent. To construct it, she printed a map from Google Images, soaked it in coffee water, dried it in the oven, ironed it flat, and then glued the edges to the dowels. The ribbon was glued to the back.

It looked great, and it was finished days before it was due, because Daughter was into it.

Then, at 10:00 last night, as she is preparing it for transport to school in the morning, she looks carefully at the map’s text, really for the first time. “Dad,” she says (I’m bent over the laptop strategizing a fix for a dead Prius battery), “There’s something weird about my map.”

“Uh huh.” I don’t look up.

“It has the Tigris and Euphrates rivers on it, but it doesn’t say ‘Mesopotamia’ anywhere, and there are other weird place names on it, like ‘Desert of Bones’ and ‘The Great Barrens.'”

Uh oh. Now I look up.

Sure enough, the map she has so painstakingly assembled is not a map of the Fertile Crescent but someone’s rendering of World of Warcraft, from what I can gather searching Google, though for the life of me I cannot relocate this exact map. In her focus on the style she flubbed the substance. A part of me wants to advise her to turn it in as is, trusting that nobody will really notice. I suppress that part, so when she declares that she needs to start all over (at 10:07) I can calmly agree.

She’s finished with it in about 90 minutes and she goes to bed having learned a valuable lesson about attention to content before flourish. I’m still working on the battery.

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