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Tuesday, August 25, 2009

All I Ever Needed to Learn...


I didn't actually learn everything I needed to know in kindergarten. While I did marry my 'boyfriend' Jeffrey, I don't recall the level of love, loss, pain and heart break that I endured in my adult marriage. And though I certainly learned about sharing, and ABCs, I did not learn about setting healthy boundaries, or how to communicate with someone who doesn't appear to speak the same language.

However, as my middle child, Bella, started her first day of kindergarten today, I was transported back to the past. I have always loved school. I eagerly anticipated my return to the classroom the way most kids look forward to Christmas. I haven't changed much. I'd probably still be pursuing advanced degrees if I had the time and money. I love learning new things, reading, studying, even being tested on that knowledge. As a child I had my backpack prepped weeks in advance. Pencils sharpened, clean notebooks waiting for me to fill them with new and exciting ideas.

My children have inherited this quality from me. Though there are many things I hope I don't pass on to them, my love of learning is one I'm proud to share. They have been looking forward to this day since the second week of summer. It makes me long for a year round school. Who needs two and a half months off anyways? (besides us parents, that is.)

So, Bella has begun her academic journey. It's a journey that will have a profound impact on what kind of person she chooses to be as she matures. The things she learns about the world, but more importantly about how she relates to her world, the friends she'll make, the triumphs and the bumps in the road, all of these things will contribute to her growing sense of self. I took the challenge of choosing the right school for my children seriously, knowing how much time they are going to spend there in the coming years. I think I have chosen well.

And so it begins. Kindergarten marriages and ABCs. And I look at life and see that we are all just living a more complicated version of kindergarten. Harder, darker, more painful for sure. But we haven't seemed to learn the lessons needed to navigate through life. Maybe kindergarten does offer us everything we need to know, if only we embrace the lessons. To share, to take responsibility for our actions (last year my eldest daughter came home from kindergarten and gave her sisters lessons in Non-Violent Communication...I'm pretty sure that was missing from my curriculum), to eat healthy food and take naps, to apologize when we hurt a friend, to color life in bold bright colors and never worry about staying in the lines, to laugh loudly, run hard and jump rope often, and through it all to live with everything we are -- in this present moment. After all, how many kindergartners spend significant portions of their day worrying about the future or bemoaning the past?

My children remind me daily what I'm missing in life when I step into my mental time machine, when I forget my lessons, when I color life in black and white and forget to eat my veggies. They remind me how to live. How to love. How to be happy. They remind that I am moment by moment given a sharp pencil and a clean white page with which to create anything I choose. And isn't that really all any of us ever need to know?