I love working with preschoolers. One minute you’re listening to a five-year-old answer a question, demonstrating a shockingly advanced level of metacognition that a lot of adults probably don’t possess. The next minute, another child is telling you about how they learned that some beetles poop when they get angry. And then a third child solemnly informs you that she owns a sword. A real sword.
It’s seriously like being in one of those AT&T commercials.
The weird, funny things the kids say are certainly part of the fun. But what I really love is those moments when a preschooler says something that is amazingly insightful or thoughtful.
We’ve been asking kids about how they would solve different problems by giving them hypothetical scenarios. We’re interested in how they adapt when they encounter obstacles to completing a goal. When you ask preschoolers to explain their problem solving strategies, you get a lot of “I don’t know” and “Because it would work.” But sometimes they surprise you, like this five-year-old the other day who explained to me, “Sometimes you have to be flexible.” She elaborated with examples showing that she was not just repeating something she heard – this is something she is fully aware of. Impressive.
So maybe you’re thinking, “Um, Sarah? This is some awfully research-y talk for a blog that claims to avoid such discussions….”
Be patient. I have a point.
She’s right. Sometimes you have to be flexible.
Like when Matilda wants to wear a fancy hat, but realizes she doesn’t own a fancy hat. She might have to adapt her definition of a fancy hat to include “sparkly cat toy”.
Or like the other day, when I was craving my favorite lentil and Israeli couscous salad. I went to Trader Joe’s to buy some steamed lentils, because they are way better than any lentils that I have ever cooked. I’d pick them up, go home and make the salad, and healthy lunches for the rest of the week. And they were completely sold out.
I was really tempted to just throw up my hands and grab a burrito bowl at Chipotle for lunch.
But I’m trying to eat more healthy meals, and I had spinach and tomatoes at home needing to be used up. So I had to be flexible, and buy a can of cannellini beans instead. Since I was changing the recipe anyway, I used farro instead of couscous (or a blend of the two).
Sometimes, being flexible works out pretty well.