Not for the faint of heart, but truly educational: eating lunch daily with preschoolers. I have done it for a large portion of my career. After a while you get used to sitting in those tiny chairs. You never truly adjust to the odd food combinations and developing table manners, but you try. Yesterday one student took everything in the compartments of his bento box and arranged it artfully on top of his portion of plain pasta.
“It’s a salad,” he told me, with a twinkle in his eye.
“He does this every day,” commented a friend.
I eat my own lunch earlier, so I can give my full attention to the kids. I usually bring a glass of water to drink while I chat, open fiddly little food packets, and peel the occasional orange. One day this week a student stopped in the middle of a sentence and exclaimed,
“I’ve seen that! I know where that is!”
She was pointing at my cup.
“Yes! It’s by that big construction area and the Whole Foods.”
I smiled, nodding.
“That’s right. It’s my favorite place. I give shows there in the summer.”
“Do you sing?”
“No, but I play music and I dance with kids and I share all my toys.”
Her eyes got big as she pondered this.
“Maybe you can come next summer.”
“Come where?” Asked another child.
“The Chrysalis.” I pointed to my cup.
“I’ve been there!” She shouts. “It was fun.”
First child, “It’s by that big construction area and the Whole Foods.”
Second child nods. “Yeah, I know.”
“Why do you have a cup?”
“It’s my very favorite place and it makes me happy to look at it.”
First child, “ I’ve seen it. It’s by that big construction area and the Whole Foods.”
So there you are. It’s a pretty good sign when you’ve begun to work your way into the consciousness of the next generation. I’d hardly call this scientific market research but it certainly made my day.