The World of Kindergarten

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Kindergarten is the golden age of childhood.

It is the brief and wonderful time in a child’s life when he or she has been around long enough to acquire a bit of logic. But with a worldview that can fit through the eye of a needle, and no social filter; coupled with the ability to communicate in complete sentences, the use of logic often has results that can be quite interesting.

A perfect example is the conversation I overheard in the car the other day between my son and his friend Liv:

Liv: You’re picking your nose Wyatt.

Wyatt: I know.

Liv: You know you can’t do that at school.

Wyatt: That’s why I’m doing it now.

Liv: Oh.

The answer must have made perfect sense to Liv, because that was the end of their exchange.

I envy kindergarteners – not the nose picking, but the ability to speak their mind so freely.

I was reminded of this when I chaperoned the field trip to the post office last month. The postmaster showed the kindergarten students the inside of a mail truck and spoke to them about the job of a postal carrier. During his talk he casually mentioned that if anyone has a dog, it should be locked up whenever the mailman comes.

When the postmaster opened it up for questions, hands that had been resting quietly on crossed legs instantly shot up.

The first child had a comment, not a question.

“I have a dog,” he said.

The next kid who the postmaster pointed to announced, “I had a dog but it died,” followed by, “My dog is a Golden Retriever and it barks whenever the mailman comes.”

And another; “Our dog is not allowed in the kitchen, but sometimes he goes in there anyway.”

The teacher stepped in and saved the poor postmaster, suggesting it was time to walk around the mail truck from the other direction.

A set of social norms unique to kindergarteners is a big part of what makes them so cute and funny to us.

I think because it is our family’s last go around with kindergarten, I have been making it a point to notice and enjoy every little thing. As if on a last walk in a beautiful place I know I will never return to, I seem to linger a little longer taking in the scenery and the sounds. When my older kids were in kindergarten, I had a baby on my hip, or a toddler tugging at me, or both – I was distracted.

But this last pass through has been much more leisurely for me. It has afforded me the opportunity to collect in my mind a list of what I love about kindergarten. Yes, the fact that kids say whatever comes to their mind is one, but there is more:

– It is the last time in one’s life until about the age of 80 that it is socially acceptable to wear Velcro shoes.

-You can get away with giving the women in your life jewelry made out of pasta and they proudly wear it.

– You “do” calendar. Never in real life would someone say, “Hey, let’s do calendar today.” But figuring out what month and day it is never seems to get old.

– Every job you have ends when the day ends. You never have to take work home with you: Pencil Sharpeners, Paper Passers, Table Monitors, and Ball Monitors all have a nice balance between work and play.

– All of your important things go into a cubby. Why don’t adults have cubbies?

– Show and Tell – need I say more?

What do you love about kindergarten? I look forward to hearing your additions to the list.

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