Once in a while you have to leave your cares behind and do something to restore the soul. For instance, you can watch a bunch of 4- and 5-year-olds make breakfast burritos.
I did this very thing Tuesday morning. The weather was fine and I drove to the YMCA Education Center in Forks Township, which is home to the Pre K Counts and Early Education programs.
Both of these, obviously, are designed to get the smallest among us off to a good start before they go to school. Pre-K Counts provides free pre-kindergarten education to at-risk children from Easton Area School District families at a certain income level. And the Early Education program offers a slate of services and activities for children from infancy to kindergarten age.
"We do enrichment programs with different presenters," said Brenda Pickard, the center's marketing and outreach director. "It can be physical, emotional, healthy eating. We do science programs. We hit all the different avenues."
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March is National Nutrition Month, so the event I was invited to observe was called "Fun With Food." It's a four-week series in which a registered dietitian from Shop-Rite (did you know Shop-Rite has registered dietitians on staff?) leads the little ones through lessons about cooking and nutrition.
Thus I found myself standing at a table with Keri Lasky-Carlos, the dietitian, and a generous handful of youngsters whose bubbly cross-talk made me realize again that the developing mind is a marvelous thing, because everything is new to it and it hop-scotches merrily through sensory perceptions and gives them voice.
"I smell fire," a girl said as the griddle for the eggs heated up.
"I feel hungry," someone else piped up.
"I ate a cheese steak in my father's car once," a boy mentioned.
The eggs turned out not to be traditional eggs but the fat-free liquid kind, in a carton labeled "The Great Eggscape."
Lasky-Carlos asked the children what nutritional value eggs provided and was informed it was "po-tein," which was correct, broadly speaking, and charming into the bargain.
"Why is breakfast the most important meal of the day?"
"Because you have to eat," said a girl named Addison Rex.
Quite so, Addison.
Finally, Lasky-Carlos asked the children to name the food group eggs belong to.
The ingredients of these breakfast burritos were not the sort my generation would have had, if we had done such things as make breakfast burritos.
The tortillas, first of all, were whole wheat. Ours would have been made from pressed corkboard, or whatever processed material was popular at the time. The eggs, as I mentioned, were fat-free. Ours would have come from morbidly obese chickens shot full of antibiotics. The black beans were organic. We would not have had black beans, as these were an ethnic sort of bean unknown to our groceries.
Lasky-Carlos also used cooking spray to grease the griddle, rather than that old childhood standby, Oleaginous Mass In a Tub.
Yes, times have changed. Anyway, the lesson was fun. The children helped — one helped spray the griddle, one rinsed the beans, one poured the eggs — and most of them seemed to enjoy the final product.
A few picked out the eggs and cheese and left the tortilla behind, but they all seemed to get the gist of the thing, which was that breakfast is important and need not consist only of cereal.
"As long as they take a little aspect away from it — a new type of food, breakfast being important — that's what I hope to accomplish," Lasky-Carlos said.
I asked Gabby Dunn, 4, what her favorite breakfast food is.
"Breakfast burritos," she said.
Mission accomplished, Keri Lasky-Carlos.
•More information: Forks YMCA Education Center, 1350 Sullivan Trail, Easton. 610-250-7193.