My grandson started Kindergarten on Thursday of last week. He was so excited about going to Kindergarten. He could hardly contain himself on Thursday morning as he pinged around the house and we tried to get him to calm down to get dressed, eat breakfast, and brush his teeth. So, when he came home from his day at Kindergarten, we were expecting him to rattle off about his day and all he did. But we got nothing. We finally asked: How was your first day of Kindergarten? By the way we can’t call it school without being told by him that it is not school it is Kindergarten and he goes to school to attend Kindergarten. He can be very precise.
Anyway…we asked him about his day, and he let us know his day was good. And it was said in a way that we knew it must have been a really good day. But then nothing. No details, no information of any kind. We asked again but this time asked: “What did you do in Kindergarten?” His reply? “I just can’t talk about it now my brain is broken.” And that was that. He didn’t talk about it…not one word to anyone about what he did on his first day of Kindergarten. Same thing for the second day. Finally, on Saturday evening, he began to tell us some of the things he had learned his first two days of school…I mean Kindergarten. I told his mom I think he is having to process what for him is a massive amount of information before he can talk about it. And you know what…I get it…I totally understand as I feel that way a lot anymore. Now thanks to my grandson, I know what to call it: “broken brain.”
I can’t help but wonder if everyone in our country isn’t suffering from “broken brain?” Our entire nation, our entire world, is being inundated with massive amounts of information on a whole lot of subjects and trying to take it all in gets overwhelming. Add to that all the fact checking we need to do, and I wonder if we all shouldn’t take a news, internet, media, social media, twitter, or whatever else you connect with break. Maybe just a week off to give ourselves some breathing room and our brains time to process all the information coming at us faster and faster every day. I wonder if we all wouldn’t find a little peace of mind and maybe a little perspective. I know for me personally, I am trying to keep my perspective during this season of Covid-19, an election year, racial unrest, hurricane season, and now Kindergarten. And I am beginning to think Kindergarten might be the most important.
In 1986, Robert Fulghum released a book titled, “All I Really Need to Know, I learned in Kindergarten.” The basic premise of the book is that if adults would follow the lessons they learned when they were in Kindergarten the world would be a better place. The lessons we all learned then was how to share, how to be kind, and how to pick up after ourselves. To name just of few. My grandson is learning about “yelling yellow” “rudy red” “bossy brown” and others so he can learn about using his indoor voice, and not being rude or bossy. He is learning how to navigate relationships with his fellow Kindergarteners, and he is doing all this while wearing a mask. Something he does very well and willingly. (and this is all I know about what he is doing in Kindergarten.)
Another concept we learned and quickly forgot is that we all need to live a balanced life. Our life should not be filled with just work anymore than it should be filled with all play. There is a time for everything we need. A time to work, a time to play. A time to learn, a time to rest. A time for others, and a time for ourselves. Seems to me I have read something along those lines…oh yes! Ecclesiastes 3:1 – 8. And I can’t help but wonder if we all shouldn’t take a remedial Kindergarten class?
Because I think we all need to be reminded that a life well lived is a balanced life. One that has time for work, learning, play and “me time.” Work is of course a given as we need to be able to earn money in order to afford the basics of life. But work can become an obsession. It should never be the focus of our life. It needs to be kept in its proper perspective. Work is what we do that helps us afford to do what we enjoy.
And then there is learning. Just because we have graduated from school, doesn’t mean we should stop learning. Learning helps us to grow. It teaches us new ways to do chores, to advance our hobbies or our skills at work. It helps us as we learn better ways to communicate with one another. It allows us to realize maybe old ways of thinking need to change. Learning helps us grow in any skill we put our minds to. Learning is important for us to continue all our life. We should never stop learning.
Play is something we don’t always do well. Especially for people who must get all the chores done first before they can play. It seems like there are always chores and they never get done. We should be intentional about carving out time to play. For some, play is traveling. For others it might be learning a new skill or language. Still others might take up a sport or a new book by a favorite author. But whatever play means to you, plan time in your week to play. We all need recess.
In addition to living a balanced life there are life skills that we should exhibit in all we do. In Kindergarten we learned to share with others. We learned to be kind. Not nice but kind and there is a big difference between the two. Being nice, means you only need to be polite when you are around others. But being kind…well, kindness is an action word. So, when we are kind to someone, we are doing something that helps them have a better day. And that can be as easy as offering a welcoming smile. Finally, the last lesson I mentioned above is to pick up after ourselves. Why do people throw their trash out their car windows? Why do people litter? Why do people think it is ok to leave their stuff out all over the place where others can trip over it? Why do people not wipe off a table they have used when they make a mess? Why don’t we pick up after ourselves? We should leave any space we occupy better than we left it. We should never assume someone else will take care of our mess.
Of course, these are only a few of the lessons we learned when we were in Kindergarten. Unfortunately, it seems many of us have forgotten them. I hope as you all go about the weeks and months ahead, you stop and remember all you learned in Kindergarten and find ways to share, be kind, pick up after yourself, and other lessons you learned as well as finding ways you can balance your life so you can say you truly lived.