Thursday, May 26, 2011

All I Really Need to Know in Life, I Learned From My Kindergartener

(Inspired by “All I Really Need to Know I Learned in Kindergarten,” by Robert Fulghum)

As my daughter nears her kindergarten graduation, I cannot believe the way these few years have swiftly passed us by. When I close my eyes, I still can feel her snuggled up against my chest, wrapped in a cozy onesie and a cloth blankie, smooth cheek resting on my shoulder. Now, I watch her zip by me at any given moment, eyes laughing and voice bubbling, going a million miles a minute. Watching her easily transition into school, friendships, and the second half of her first decade on this planet, I pause to capture the simple yet profound lessons we can learn from a kindergartener.

• If you’re going to be sloppy with the toothpaste, you might want to put your nice shirt on after you brush.

• Work first, then play. But make sure you do plenty of both. Too much of either leads to less than desirable results.

• Read. Read during the day. Remember that the ability to read is an amazing skill. Later in life, you will probably forget what an intricate process learning to read was, but try not to take the gift of literacy for granted. Above all else, read a bedtime story every night. And if you’re able to, give someone a kiss and a hug before you shut your eyes.

• You can have a Reese cup. Or even two. But make sure you’re eating the healthy stuff, too, and don’t overdo it with the sweets.

• Be nice to everyone, even those who aren’t nice to you. Sometimes people will hurt you, or your feelings. Don’t make it a secret that you’ve been hurt. But if you get no apology, forgive them anyway and move on.

• Laugh every day. As many times as possible.

• Everybody mispronounces a word, gets a problem wrong, or screws up an assignment every once in a while. Accept corrections and criticisms with dignity, and don’t allow yourself to be embarrassed.

• Always tell your mommy and daddy that you love them.

• We all have meltdowns occasionally. If you’re having one, the best thing to do, usually, is take a nap.

• If you don’t understand something, ask. If that question leads to another question, ask that one too. If the person you are questioning doesn’t know the answers, don’t be discouraged, ask someone else. Never lose your sense of curiosity.

• Sing loudly, even if you sing off-key. If you’re trying your hardest and having a good time, no matter what the task, who cares what anybody else thinks?

• Follow the rules. Follow the directions. If you break a rule or skip a direction, be prepared to live with the consequences. When you’ve done something wrong, say that you’re sorry. And mean it.

• When you come home, tell somebody about your day. The more details the better. Then, listen while they tell you about yours.

• The show must go on! I was particularly proud of my little girl for getting up on stage by herself for the first time ever during a talent show. She had a nasty cold, and her partner didn’t show, but Kaliah dancing ballet to “Jesus Loves Me,” the first solo act of the evening, her tiny little figure moving gracefully, cautiously, and a little unsteadily across the stage all by her lonesome self, showed me that bravery comes in all shapes and sizes.

• Enjoy the little things in life. Sunshine. A rainbow. An encounter with a butterfly. Be amazed by the small stuff.

• Love someone all the way to infinity and back. If we all possessed the trusting, innocent love of a kindergartener, we could take our relationships to places we never imagined.

• Go to bed at a decent hour, or you’ll be seriously cranky-pants in the morning.

• Every once in a while, go ahead and be a show-off. Shake it like there’s no tomorrow to “Walk Like an Egyptian.” Be proud of your accomplishments, and share them with your loved ones. Don’t get carried away though—everything you do is a gift from God.

• Be honest. Kindergartners are particularly good at this, as they’ve yet to learn the art of “tact.”

• Have faith the size of a mountain. Be unashamed of it, and willing to share with those who need it. Pray for everyone you love, and even those you don’t. Pray for yourself, too. Always remember that God is with you. Allow your heart to be touched by the bigness of our world and the people in it who need our love.

Thank you, Kaliah Rose, for being the best thing that has ever happened to me.