Kindergarten Throw Back

Do you remember kindergarten? How about when your children or grandchildren were in kindergarten? No, not really? Is it all a bit foggy? Surely, though while we may not actually remember being a kindergartner, we do remember what we learned at that young age. And while, what we learned in kindergarten became the foundation of our education, I think especially now after a week filled with so much hate and violence, we could all use a refresher course. 

In between recess and naptime, we learned our ABC’s and 123’s, but more importantly we learned how to be good classmates, friends, neighbors and children. Among the rules we learned as 5-year olds are five of the most important to remember:

  1. Listen when the teacher (or someone else) is talking.
  2. No running in the halls. (Slow down!)
  3. Keep your hands to yourself. 
  4. Share with others.
  5. No name calling.

While all of these “rules” are important, I find that #5 may need the most review among American adults today.  Even as precoicious 4 year-olds, my daughters both knew that the word “Duh” was disrepectful and that the word “stupid” was a “bad” word and would call me (rightfully so) out if I used one of these words. Yet, when someone disagrees with one of our values, beliefs or opinions, many of us are quick to assign judgement and call each other names. 

political sign

I passed this political sign (to the left) on my way to the dentist this afternoon. I felt physically ill as I passed by.  I am glad that my  youngest daughter wasn’t in the car with me to read this hateful sentiment. While it is a wonderful example of alliteration, it would have been distressing to explain to her what a douche bag and douche are, and even more so to try to explain to her why these words were being used in this context. I am not offended by this sign, but am disappointed and saddened by it. A more effective sign might have been to tell me the positive reasons why I should vote another way instead (Republican maybe?). The writer of this sign does just the opposite of what his or her intent was – to influence me not to vote democrat. Yet, the off-putting aura of hate that surrounded the message makes me want to vote democrat even if I weren’t intending to before I read it.

While I whole-heartedly support our right to free speech as proteted by the first ammendment, even the Super Bowl halftime show is censored and music, videos and movies are rated based on content. I do not agree with the content of that roadside sign or for that matter of various tweets and contents on any given social media platform, I would never call the author a nasty name because of it (even though I may momentarially think it). While the old childhood rhyme may be “Sticks and stones may break my bones, but words will never hurt me.”  They do. Words do hurt. Words instill hate in our hearts. Words insight violence. Words matter. 

Last week my daughter was upset because someone in her class supposedly her a “mean name.”  We talked about the saying of “I’m rubber and your glue whatever you say bounces off me and sticks to you.”  As Taylor Swift sings, “Shake it off” as the “Haters are gonna hate, hate, hate.” We agreed that when someone calls you something mean, it’s more about their lack of self-esteem than it is about her. This is true. It doesn’t matter what people think about you in theory. But pratically, speaking I can replay in my mind more exactly the hurtful things people have said to me more easily than the positive ones. While I shake it off, a sliver of pain is still left behind.

Words can inspire. Word can affect positve change. Words can lift us up. 
Words matter. 

Are there any other kindergarten rules you think we should revisit?

Time Musings

Missing Tooth

As I walked along our deserted country road this warm summer evening, holding my five-year-old’s hand, my mind wandered back through time. Last week she lost her first tooth. This afternoon she told me how she got to cross the road all by herself to get the mail, looking both ways to make sure no cars were coming of course. And in less than two weeks, she’ll start kindergarten. My eyes water already at just the thought of watching her climb aboard the big yellow bus and disappear out of sight.

I only have to close my eyes and I feel her tiny fingers wrapped around one of mine, her soft cheek pressed against my breast. I can hear the little sighs and gurgles she made as slept in my arms. I can smell the sweet pea shampoo in her freshly washed hair. I can see her little legs carry her across the living room, one shaking step at a time to reach my outstretched arms.

I try to wrap my mind around that elusive concept of time. Some days the seconds drag by in excruciating slowness. Yet in this moment it feels as if the years raced past me. Some days I wish I could pull a brake and slow time down and other days I want that fast forward button to take me some unknown place in the future that has to be better than the now. Some days I greedily wish for more time and other days  I wish it away.

Time…60 seconds in a minute, 60 minutes in an hour, 24 hours in day, 7 days in a week, 356 days in a year…The math adds up the same every time, yet in my mind I still struggle and wonder how that can be.

I try to live in the present. Not think too much about the past or skip too far to the future. I know I only really have this moment and then its gone. The moments turn into memories and if I contemplate too long I’ll miss it and the next time I look at my daughter, she’ll be leaving for college…