“Guacamole to you, guacamole to you, guacamoooooooleeeeee to you-uuuuu, guacamole to you!” Yup, that’s what I came up with. And it worked! I held up our visual recipe and four toddlers stood looking at me in silent expectation. Class in session! So I handed each two-year-old in our living room half an avocado and a knife and turned my back on them for a second to grab a bowl.
When I turned back, Leo’s mouth was green and his plate was nearly empty, but the kids were all quietly focusing on the task of chopping. We combined the various size chunks of avocado with lime and salt, pulsed the cilantro and white onion in the food processor (the “knives” we use are made by Gerber and soft avocado is about their limit). We checked off each ingredient on our recipe, one of Leo’s little friends wandered about with the homemade tortilla chips for a while because I told her to put them on the table and we don’t actually have a table, and then, with very little fuss, snack was served.
I like this. I like making relatively wholesome food with Leo and his friends. I like taking a more active role in Leo’s extracurricular life, such as it is. I like learning how to be a teacher, I like thinking through what the kids would enjoy making and how it can be made at a low table with no heat, no sharp implements and no frustrating wait times. And most of all, I love that these kids, who used to lie on their backs chewing toys when we began this playgroup, can now do an actual activity. They listen, they work hard, they relate to each other and most of all, they are SO enthusiastic.
The director of one of the many preschools I toured last year, when asked why they don’t do prospective student interviews, replied that she’d never met a two-year-old she didn’t like. At the time, I had the idea that two-year-olds are contrary little terrors and that she was a very unusual person. Now I see that two-year-olds in a structured, motivating setting are absolutely the most charmingly open-minded, fast-thinking, determined little beings, capable of such depths of seriousness, such heights of silliness, and such rapid changes between the two that it does a person good just to be around a few of them. Happy guacamole to you!
Zoe Singer is a freelance food writer and cookbook editor and co-author of The Flexitarian Table. Food Editor and blogger for The Faster Times, she tries not to eat for two now that her son is a toddler.