Framing the Dialogue

All I Really Need To Know I Learned In Kindergarten

I have a poster hanging in my office.  It’s not placed like most folks hang artwork.  You really only can see it from my chair.  This particular poster is for me.  It’s not a fancy picture or a cute cat hanging in there.  It is simple a collection of guidelines from Robert Fulghum’s All I Really Need to Know I Learned in Kindergarten.

Mr. Fulghum provides a bounty of short stories/essays to support and illustrate his simple themes.  I could try to paraphrase, but I’d rather use his words from the back cover of the book:

Most of what I really need to know about how to live and what to do and how to be I learned in kindergarten.  Wisdom was not at the top of the graduate school mountain, but there in the sandpile at Sunday school.  These are the things I learned:

  • Share everything.
  • Play fair.
  • Don’t hit people.
  • Put things back where you found them.
  • Clean up your own mess.
  • Don’t take things that aren’t yours.
  • Say you’re sorry when you hurt somebody.
  • Wash your hands before you eat.
  • Flush.
  • Warm cookies and cold milk are good for you.
  • Live a balanced life.
  • Take a nap every afternoon.
  • When you go out into the world, watch out for traffic, hold hands, and stick together.
  • Be aware of wonder.

These are things we teach our children, but somehow we may have forgotten to do ourselves.  One that I would add is to say “Thank you.”   We live in a suburban neighborhood and had tons of children show up at Halloween.  I was surprised and the number of kids that don’t say thanks. 

When we had our own children, I wanted them to be polite.  When we took them to restaurants (not fast-food) we always made them order their own food and drinks.  This was troublesome when they were under five years old, but only the strong survive and they all did.  One thing I did to encourage some politeness was that when our drinks were served, they couldn’t have them until they thanked the server. 

Fast forward ten plus years and we were out to dinner earlier this week; they all automatically thanked the server for the drinks, food, etc.  They are polite and I am proud of it.  You can tell a lot about someone by how they treat servers.  I have heard that many companies take prospective employees out to lunch to see how they treat and act (my tip – don’t order alcohol even if the others do). 

All I Really Need To Know is an inspirational and light book to read.  You can share this with your children or savor it for yourself.

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