Having a kindergarten child has prompted me to (finally) read Robert Fulghum’s entertaining and enlightening book, All I Really Need to Know I Learned in Kindergarten. Since I’m so late to the book, its actually the 15th anniversary edition I’m exploring. I’m going to skip the bullet points of the rules of kindergarten, and instead, present five quotes from the book that stood out for me in terms of a huge laugh or resonating feeling or memory.
The Rest of the Story
Fulgham describes the ending he used to convince his children to go to sleep after story time while the sleepy kids wanted more:
“The father sold all the children who would not go to sleep to a passing gypsy who ground them into sausage meat. The first children to be ground up were those who would not stop asking questions.”
While funnier in context, I burst out laughing because it is so true that we sometimes resort to bizarre tactics to quell the insatiable need of children to question and wonder. Sad thing is that by the time they get through school, we often succeed.
Jumper Cables and the Good Samaritan
This story is about how Fulghum tried to help a stranger jump start his car when neither really knew how:
“I thought he knew what he was doing, and kind of went along with it. Guess he did the same. And we hooked it up real tight and turned the ignition key in both cars at the same time. And there was this electrical arc between the cars that not only fried his ignition system, it welded the jumper cables to my battery and knockedÂ the baseball cap off his head.”
I laughed out loud at the description (easier to laugh since no one got hurt). What rings true are the times I know I’ve been in a similar position (not necessarily as dangerous) and rather than simply saying, “I don’t know,” I pretended to. Admitting ignorance and asking for help are signs of strength, not weakness. Why do we often think the opposite?
While talking about how autos are about image for Americans and not transportation, Fulghum describes his perfect vehicle:
“I remember riding home on a summer’s eve in the back of an ancient Ford pickup truck, with two eight-year-old cousins for company and my uncle Roscoe at the wheel. We’d been swimming and were sitting on inner tubes for comfort, and had a couple of old quilts and an elderly dog wrapped close for warmth. We were eating chocolate cookies and drinking sweet milk out of a Mason jar, and singing our lungs out with unending verses of “Ninety-nine Bottles of Beer on the Wall.” With stars and moon and God above, and sweet dreams at the end of the journey home. And not a care in the world.”
Talk about imagery – those words got me to thinking about the “good old days” of growing up. The summer weeks spent away at my Aunt’s house (and the girl I had a crush on there). The endless nights playing in the neighborhood with whatever kids could make it (meaning those who were not grounded because of a previous night’s activities…). It’s a shame that as life progresses, it gets harder and harder to have those timeless experiences.
Counting tangible things (such as people) is the subject of this story, but Fulghum’s point is that truly important things are hard to count:
“Fulghum’s Exchange Principle…Every person passing through this life will unknowingly leave something and take something away. Most of this “something” cannot be seen or heard or numbered or scientifically detected or counted. It’s what we leave in the minds of other people and what they leave in ours.”
Pow. In a few words, that’s why teachers do what they do. As I reflect on Fulghum’s principle, I think it is going to make it onto my very short list of favorite quotes. That list used to have one quote on it – I think it will now have two.
The most famous brand of crayon known around the world is at the heart of Fulghum’s invention:
“Maybe we should develop a Crayola bomb as our next secret weapon. A happiness weapon. A Beauty bomb. And every time a crisis developed, we would launch one first – before we tried anything else. It would explode high in the air-explode softly-and send thousands, millions, of little parachutes into the air. Floating down to earth-boxes of Crayolas. And we wouldn’t go cheap, either-not little boxes of eight. Boxes of sixty-four, with the sharpener built right in. With silver and gold and copper, magenta and peach and lime, amber and umber and all the rest. and people would smile and get a little funny look on their faces and cover the world with imagination instead of death. A child who touched one wouldn’t have his hand blown off.”
What do I want? A Crayola bomb for Christmas. How about you?
Image courtesy of bcymet on Flickr.
Fulghum, Robert. All I Really Need to Know I Learned in Kindergarten. New York: Ballantine, 2003.