This morning, I had the privilege to work with the kids in my daughter's mixed preschool and kindergarten class for a few hours. And while my volunteer morning started on a somewhat sour and totally asinine note - instead of simply passing by the front desk, I actually remembered to sign in for my hours and was promptly rewarded with a tardy slip for 8:32 (school starts at 8:30) - the rest was at once enlightening and hilarious.
My idea was to get the kids to write a poem about an abstract term using their five senses. I started by giving them paper bags with oranges in them. The kids then felt and smelled what was in the bags and described the contents. "Squishy," "rubbery," "round," and "smells like oranges" were the most common answers. Later, I worked with two kids at a time to write their own poems about either "love" or "friendship."
"What does love smell like?" I asked, my adult brain trying valiantly to ignore the answers I would get from my high school or college students...or my husband. "Flowers" was pretty common, as was "strawberries" and "mom's shampoo." Awww. One little girl said love smelled like tortellini, her favorite meal. I suddenly remembered I had only had a small Greek yogurt for breakfast.
Banishing those inappropriate adult, albeit juvenile, responses from my mind again, I asked, "What does love smell like?" Some expected answers were "cake" and "chocolate," but my favorites were "spaghetti" and "corn dogs." The girl who answered corn dogs was immediate with her answer and totally sincere. Who doesn't think love smells like corn dogs? Isn't that universal?
While some of the kids' answers proved that my acting skills are still pretty much in place, some of them, well, I'll let them speak for themselves. Over and over, when I asked what love and friendship looked like, the kids answered "family."
That got me thinking. When I was a kid, what would I have said love smelled like? tasted like? I'm pretty sure my answers would have been pancakes and make-your-own ice cream sundaes at Coco's. Making pancakes with my mom was a happy event, a content event. And I remember it fondly to this day. She would spell our names in pancakes, or make dinosaurs, or aliens, or whatever we were into at the time. The smell permeated our little house for hours. And since going out to a restaurant was a rare occasion, the opportunity to slather on chocolate syrup and not having to wash the bowl was joyous indeed. Isn't that why so many of us have trouble with food as adults? We equate it with love?
Ah...but the innocent minds this morning really taught me a lesson I thought I had learned well enough. Love and friendship should look like family. I only hope that that is what my husband and I are giving to our children.
I'll leave you with A's poem.
Love tastes like cherries
sounds like birds tweeting
smells like milk
feels like the wind blowing
and looks like family.