What I didn’t learn in kindergarten

August 6th, 2014 | Posted by jameswatkins in Uncategorized

With apologies to Robert All I Really Need to Know I Learned in Kindergarten Fulghum, not everything I learned at Minges Brook Elementary School was true.

Some was simply bad science and medicine: Girls (or boys, depending on your gender) give you “cooties.” Toads give you warts. An apple a day keeps the doctor away. Babies come from cabbage patches. Kill a spider and it will rain. Step on a crack and break your mother’s back. Someday your face is going to freeze like that!

Some was bad sociology and psychology: Sticks and stones will break my bones, but words will never harm me. This is going to hurt me more than it hurts you. Big boys don’t cry. You’ll poke your eye out! Be nice and people will be nice to you. Play fair and you’ll win. You can be whatever you want to be. And they lived happily ever after.

So, somewhere between Play-Doh and Preparation H, we make the disturbing discovery that words do hurt. Big boys do cry. People who don’t play fair often clobber those who do. We may not “achieve” all our “mind can conceive.” Life is not one long day at Disney World.

Nursery school naivete infuses children with energetic innocence and enthusiasm. And a life of broken dreams and promises often produces cynical senior citizens. But, perhaps there’s a balance between Fulghum’s positive perspective and the negativity of nay- sayers.

We do need to “clean up our own messes,” but in reality we often need to clean up after others. “Warm cookies and cold milk are good for you,” but only if they are low in fat and cholesterol. “Take a nap every afternoon,” but only a very short one or you’ll be wide awake for those 3 a.m. TV infomercials. We do need to “flush,” but sometimes life’s plumbing gets clogged.

Perhaps maturity, then, is the ability to discern what is true and what is false. And to find that delicate balance between “and they lived happily ever after” and “the world’s going to hell in a hand basket.” You can’t learn that in kindergarten.

Copyright © 1988 James N. Watkins

What didn’t you learn in kindergarten? Please comment below.

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2 Responses

  • Mike Vanin says:

    Mom and Dad didn’t always know best.
    Mom and Dad were scared of a lot of different people.
    Mom or Dad didn’t really “forget” to do something that they didn’t want to do.
    Some teachers really can’t.
    Lots of grown-ups lie to kids.
    Scaring kids is faster and easier than teaching them.
    Not everyone older than 16 is a grown-up.
    Old people are not all kind, neither are they all clever and sometimes when they don’t know what a word means they tell you not to say it.
    A poor person doesn’t really like sleeping in their fort at the back of the building.
    Some grown-ups never learn to understand their dog, even when their dog is very patient.
    You can’t teach a duck to share with anybody, even with their own brothers.
    Smaller brothers think you are clever and strong but they never tell you because they think you already know.
    Girls your age don’t stay stronger and taller forever.

    That should do for now …

    • jameswatkins says:

      Those are great, Mike! We do lose our naivety and innocence along the way. (My three-year granddaughter wondered why her hamburger didn’t look like the one pictured on the menu board. I had to explain the harsh reality of deceptive packaging and marketing. Poor kid!)

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