At the edge of town, right where all the roads and sidewalks end, stands a colorful house. It has an orange roof and light blue walls with flowers painted on them. Even though no one lives in it, a lot of children still arrive there every day, brought by their parents. It’s a preschool. But not just any preschool. Something strange is going on inside it. Even magical. Every day, when it’s lunch time, the preschool starts rippling, its colors become richer than before, and a magical song can be heard from inside. Who sings it and what is actually happening there during lunch?
An extraordinary cook works in this preschool. Her clothes are white as snow, she wears a chef’s hat on her head, and underneath it she wears a long black plait. Her name is Mariana. All the children call her Mary. This cook is not some ordinary cook. She knows how to transform lunch time into a magical time.
Mary had always known that children did not like to eat lunch. They were required to sit politely, not play with their cutlery and not fidget, which was terribly boring. Besides, as soon as the children ate just a few spoonfuls, the entire dining hall would start buzzing with noise: “I don’t like it. I can’t eat anymore. My belly is full. Can I take my plate away?” Mary didn’t want any of this. She wanted the children to enjoy lunch. To be excited when she served it to them.
And so she decided that she would do everything in her power to make it that way. She searched in all manners of cookbooks and magical recipes, as well as inside all children’s encyclopedias. And then she found it. A magical spell with secret spices for food. She learned it immediately and looked forward to showing it to the children at the preschool.
Cook Mary couldn’t wait for lunchtime the next day. The children sat down at their tables as usual, slowly starting to fidget, when cook Mary walked in with cutlery in her hands and started to sing: “The food smells nice in the pan, lunchtime for children began. The meal is almost prepared, you’ll like it, of that I’m not scared. Children, children, listen, your forks and knives are on the way, watch closely until on the table everything lay. I’ve added a secret spice to my lunch because I love you a bunch.”
As soon as cook Mary sang the song, incredible things started happening. Spoons, forks, and knives lined up in a row, started scuttling about in the air, and one after another settled in front of the children on the table. A colorful rainbow brightened the entire classroom, with rainbow glitter sliding down its sides. Meanwhile, cook Mary carefully danced among the children to the rhythm of the song, placing food in their dishes. The children hadn’t even realized that their food was already there. They just looked around with their mouths wide open, watching what was going on.
Once the cook had finished singing and the food was on the table, she pulled a small pouch out of her pocket. She scooped up a little bit of the red spice within between her fingers and gently sprinkled it over the plates laden with food. And she whispered to the children with a smile: “That’s a secret ingredient, it will help you enjoy the food.” Amazed, with smiles conjured onto their faces, the children tucked into their lunches. “That’s so good. Yum. Cook Mary, you’re the best,” could be heard from all directions in the classroom.
That lunch time, not one of the children fidgeted, rolled their eyes, or tried to bring back their food. Cook Mary was satisfied. And why did the children like the food so much and what was the secret ingredient? Cook Mary was cooking for the children. She wanted to do everything in her power to make lunchtime magical and joyful for them. And the secret ingredient? It was love. She did all of this out of love for them. That’s why they enjoyed it.
A lot of time has passed since then. But nothing has changed. Cook Mary is still working at the preschool, still transforming lunchtime into magical time. If you ever pass by the preschool, you’d see the whole school shine and ripple, you’d smell amazing aromas wafting out of the windows, you’d hear cook Mary’s sing her magical song, and hear the children giggle quietly, contentedly.
And that’s what it’s about, what is most important: conjuring a smile onto other people’s faces. Cook Mary made it happen. That’s why she is exceptional.