Today I started the day preparing food in the kitchen. A young guy was reluctant to say good-bye to his mom. I invited him to use the vintage egg beater to scramble the eggs for lunch. At first he wasn’t sure, but when I sat beside him at the table, he asked to give it a try. I cracked the eggs one by one into a small bowl, then dumped them into the larger bowl he was working with the egg beater. Soon a crowd joined us. We took turns, the first guy a four, the five additional kids all twos. “Take turns”, one of the younger twos kept saying as we passed the bowl of increasingly frothy eggs and the beater around the table. Each child learned to use two hands on the simple machine, left hand steady on the top handle, right hand turning the crank to beat the eggs. The nice thing about beating eggs is that it can go on and on and on. As the kids finished, some drifted off to play while two remained to sponge the table, another chore that can go on forever.

At lunch today, we had soba noodles, fluffy eggs, edamame, and golden delicious apples from the farm of one two’s grandparents. The apples were so delicious, we told the story of where they came from, and the kids called them golden apples, asking for seconds and thirds and fourths. The two whose grandparents grew the apples told us he plays at his grandpa’s house. There is a ball there. Inside there are toys. I comment that his grandpa must want him to visit to have all those things for him to play with there.

The noodles challenge the kids, too. They are long and unwieldy. Are they fork or spoon or finger food? All three for most. The eggs are so good today the children eat them all. The edamame is in the pod for the second time this year. Children must learn to remove the seeds from the pods. Once they figure out how to do this, they work and work and eat and eat. One two takes such pleasure in this task and treat she stays at the table after all the others are settled for rest, finishing all the pods in the bowl, putting the beans in her mouth, the pods in a “peel bowl’ we keep on the table to help us transfer peels to kitchen compost bin to side yard compost bin where the worms await their turn. Which reminds me it’s about time to introduce our new kids to this local pleasure, the compost bin with it’s colony of worms, pungent odors, and mystery contents transforming into soil.

Today our lunch time was generous due to an early arrival home from the park. Same was true on Friday, when we had a rainy day. It was a great pleasure to spend half an hour with our little ones enjoying our meal, taking our time to free the edamame from their pods, to retrieve noodles from their bibs for a second trip to the mouth, talking about the apples and the grandpas and wondering on other things, conversation ranging from storytelling to focus on the food. I’m reminded to get the group home in time for leisurely lunch, grateful to parents who arrive midday and are patient while we finish eating, pleased to be in a group of such curious cooks and eager eaters, happy to begin to do cooking projects with this new group, to watch children begin to pour their own milk, to scoop their own cereal, to choose their own bread. Even that choice today at breakfast, between bagel and bread, felt empowering to the children. Which do you prefer? is a way of getting to know a child, for a child to be known, allowing him or her to create a more elaborate identity, to choose. There is power in that, as much as in the healthy food we serve the children.

This afternoon as Liana washed the dishes later than usual, with three young twos up from nap more interested in helping her at the sink than in puzzles or in drawing, I realized again how much these young ones enjoy real work, and expect we’ll find more of it day by day. I’m going to think about what other cooking and real work projects we might do this year, reminded that many twos do love the kitchen and the work we do there.

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