When you Bake with a 4 year-old, you May Need a Horse, Keys, and a Trumpet

Today I had the pleasure of leading a one-one online baking session, with a 4 year-old. She made a healthy banana/carrot/nut cake. Preschoolers are so much fun to work with in the kitchen. Often they like to get their hands dirty, and the floor even dirtier. Sometimes it surprises me how much they can do, especially when we let them. They can pour milk, measure flour, grate cheese, slice fruit, and even crack an egg. All on their own.

I remember one of my first preschool classes (not online). I brought out a dozen eggs and put them on the table. Three of the boys quickly grabbed an egg and were ready to crack them, right on the table, without any bowls, or help from me. Whoa, hold-on, you're in preschool! Don't you want some assistance?

Many high schoolers are anxious about cracking eggs, but not most preschoolers. I'll let you in on a secret: most preschoolers are not afraid of getting egg yolk everywhere or eggshell in the bowl. To them, cracking an egg is easy-peasy. They haven't learned to be cautious or worried, they just want to open up the egg.

This proved to be the case today. My little one had her egg cracked before I even got mine out of the refrigerator. My plan was to show her how to crack an egg. She was way ahead of me, egg cracked and waiting in the bowl.

I love the things preschoolers say while they are baking. Today I heard, "you have to dig down deep" while she was mixing the ingredients with full concentration and effort. Good life advice, for sure.

And the imagination..."Wait, Sara, wait." Off she ran. Only to come back with a toy horse, trumpet, and plastic keys, all essentials to have on hand while baking. I got to hear a story about the horse guarding the keys, while wearing the trumpet. My kids are grown. I've forgotten what a delight it is to see little minds at work, and the things that take on importance to them, in the moment.

When the cake batter was in its pan, I suggested she slice some bananas to put on top of the cake. The bananas turned into "waves in a river". I can't remember the last time I looked at a cake and thought it was anything other than a cake. Such pleasure and simple joy. A kid being a kid, all while learning a new skill or two along the way.

If you have a preschooler and haven't cooked together, give it a try. I'm sure the stories you hear will be just as precious. Your child will learn a new skill, you might have a laugh or two, and your counters are sure to get messy. So worth it. I promise!

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