Friday, July 27, 2012


I know the title isn't going to be exactly applicable, but I liked it so I'm using it. So there.

I work in a school [note that one could put each word in that sentence in quotes and get a wonderful range of sarcastic meanings out of such a short sentence]. Over the summer, there is less to do in the way of actual teaching (though the empty classrooms often provide a better environment) so the school opens itself up to a summer camp. Thus I find myself hip deep in little kids. They are, I guess, the future of my people. They also give me an insight into the developmental stages of the human brain.

I walked through the cafeteria to snag some of the mediocre coffee which the camp provides for its counselors and staff. I have no guilt about this -- students take stuff from the teachers' room with my permission throughout the school year and I'm just saving them from drinking mediocre coffee. They should be thanking me. On my way through I passed a table of young 'uns. The first lunch shift had begun and these 4-5 year old boys were eagerly scarfing down their plates of plain noodles, and (I discovered this by asking) their french toast and maple syrup. The syrup comes in packets which look like those freezer pops -- long, thin, soft plastic tubes. Most of the campers simply ripped open one end and dumped the syrup on the plate or at least the table and dipped the french toast in. Others dipped their fingers in either to then suck the syrup off or to wipe their fingers in their friends' hair. They are, after all, boys, and if they don't do something dirty and destructive every few minutes, they disappear. So on the scale of inventiveness, I saw these boys as the average: syrup is applied to surface and then manipulated.

A bit higher up on the scale is the kid who took the packet and treated it like the freezer pop or the portable yogurt, by sucking on the package and drinking the syrup directly. This is the child who recognizes the instant gratification of the maple sugar rush and who skips the intermediary. He isn't pouring it out and then slurping it up -- he is getting it from the source. Already by the age of 5 he has developed a different sense of how to satisfy his needs. Super to him, I say. Normally, these are the two groups -- the average and the different. Today, I saw something which amazed me -- a third group.

One little boy took his packet of syrup and (stay with me on this because it's brilliant) poured it into his water bottle. He then sipped at the water bottle. You hear that? He combined two unrelated lunch items to create a totally new product! MAPLE WATER! This is the kind of thinking that demonstrates that this kid sees the world very differently.  He is a giant among 4-5 year olds and though that isn't really all that large, it still is something! Others tried to laugh at him and he persisted, selling them on the idea by drinking and commenting on how delicious it was.

How do this bravery and innovative thinking develop? Did his parents foster this by forcing him to do something or watch something? Is it just an inborn and unique trait? What, if it is encouraged, will this thinking outside the bottle lead to in the way of great inventions in the future. Where can I invest in this boy?

What kind of a lunch is french toast?


  1. Clearly, the superior kid has a future in marketing.

    1. Only if he were to decide to sell the maple water at the same price per ounce as the maple syrup.


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