Writer’s Note, 8.31.2017:
I wrote this post a week ago, but held on sharing it. Doing so seemed insensitive in the face of tragedy and devastation due to Hurricane Harvey.
But, I’m posting it now, without hesitation.
Because, especially in extremely difficult times as this, we really don’t have time to mistreat, dislike or even hate each other. And, thankfully, a lot of folks agree; the evidence is in news stories of strangers helping strangers impacted by the hurricane.
Yet, a lot of other folks still don’t get it. From the rude customer in the grocery line yesterday to the latest POTUS shenanigans, too many adults insist on choosing the low road.
But, we don’t have to. The high road is waaaay better, and there are many paths to get there.
Here’s a brief look at one such path.
I value my to-do lists. They help me organize life and save time. And, as a new school year begins, they’re like buddies ready to remind me to get things done.
But, lately I think they’ve been feeling a tad lonely.
I catch myself ignoring my lists at times, distracted by some of the chaos unfolding in the world around us. Facebook, CNN, Twitter, you name it: They’ve been vying for my attention a lot more lately. And the bait? News stories that paint not-so-rosy pictures of adults being mean, rude, even hateful.
Now, let’s be honest: We all know we didn’t start out this way. As babies, we were full of wonder. And, as very young children, we generally played well with others. Making a new friend on the playground? Easy-peasy, based simply on a shared love of fun.
And, for many of us, this type of kind behavior toward others was nurtured in a very special place: Kindergarten.
Kindergarten equipped us with the basics of reading, writing and arithmetic. We learned how music soothes, how art inspires, and how exercise makes us feel oh-so-good. But, kindergarten didn’t stop there. It also taught us the basics of compassion. And forgiveness. And respect.
So that, when we argued, we learned to squash it quickly with a hug.
When a new kid, different from us, showed up–well, we hugged him, too.
And, when we were wrong, we learned to offer a sincere “I’m sorry.”
These and other kindergarten lessons cross my mind when cameras capture yet more adults having trouble getting along. It sure seems we could all benefit by tapping into our collective memories of those lessons right about now. Lessons like:
Focus on being kind, not right. Mean is never cute on anyone. This includes world leaders. And elected officials. And haters of any kind. As my mom (a primary school teacher) reminded us kids, “We can disagree without being disagreeable.”
Apologize when you’re wrong–and be quick about it. No one’s perfect, so no one’s exempt from this one. Check yourself before checking others when figuring out who’s to blame. If it’s you, offer a genuine apology, hug or shake hands, and move on. Life’s too short to hold grudges.
We all have gifts, and we all have something to learn. If we really get it, this lesson keeps us both optimistic and humble: It reminds us we’re all valuable, yet we always have room to grow wiser and stronger, in and out.
Yes, life as an adult requires way more than the simplicity of kindergarten lessons. And these examples merely scratch the surface. But, in this age of Adults Behaving Badly, perhaps taking a page from The Kindergarten Playbook isn’t such a bad idea after all.
What kindergarten lessons stick with you most?