Discerning Palates

Posted on Posted in Arts & Smarts

Last week, one boy in our Arts & Smarts Program found Jane Vickers and confided in her, “I found out that coming here helps with my stress.”

“How so?” Jane asked.

“Because sometimes school doesn’t go so well, but being here makes me happy,” he answered.

The boy is a little rough around the edges. He’s in middle school. He takes risks and sometimes he does not listen. He rides a motorized skateboard. Before that it was a BMX bike. But, when you take a moment to listen to his interests and talents, he blooms.

Last fall, the children’s program staff were discussing deviled eggs and he said he was an expert at making them. That seemed a little farfetched. This wild and crazy kid is interested in subtleties of flavor? Yes, he wants to be a chef!

Fast forward to yesterday. The Arts & Smarts staff needed to find something to serve for snack. The boy came to the rescue by offering to whip up some of his famous deviled eggs. Two younger children were drafted to help out. The older boy quickly fell into the role of “Head Chef,” making decisions and leading the younger children with enthusiasm and care.

Normally his deviled eggs include pickle relish, mustard, and a touch of honey for sweetness. The group didn’t find any pickle relish in Patchwork’s refrigerator, so they looked to the spice cabinet to try to find a substitute. First, Jane vetoed pickling spices. She thought they would be too strong. But then the boy noticed dried dill. Dill…like in dill pickles! The group decided that made sense, so the day’s deviled eggs included mustard, a touch of honey and some dill. When the eggs were done, one of the younger children declared them, “the best she’d ever eaten.”

This experience is a key part of our children’s program. We get to know the kids, provide space and support for them to share and explore their interests, and watch them shine.

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