I always expected school to continually get harder and harder each year but somehow, upon looking back, I realized that elementary school might have taught me more things and exercised my brain more than middle school, high school, or even college. It is like the book, All I Really Need to Know I Learned in Kindergarten by Robert Fulghum. Perhaps this was because I had not yet learned that I should be ashamed to feel excited about learning.
Learning About Vacations
I would go on a vacation once a year with my family. In elementary school, the family, including grandma and granny, went to Disneyland multiple times. The last time I was there I would eat Pop Rocks while I watched the electric parade go by. All I remember about San Diego, California, was that we went to the San Diego Zoo, and I got sick in the car. We also visited Amish County, Pennsylvania and a slew of other places during those years.
Learning About Love
“Was it possible, he sometimes wondered, that children humored grown-ups? If grownups insisted on toilet training, on please and thank you—well, all right, since it seemed to mean so much to them. It wasn’t important enough to argue about. This is a transitive verb, some grown-up would say, and the children would go along with it; though to them it was immaterial, frankly.” (Tyler 275)
I can remember having this conversation with my Dad:
Dad: “What honey?”
Me: “I love you”
Dad: “I love you too, honey”
Keep in mind that this is not as sweet as it sounds, but rather depressing because I was so proud of myself that I would repeat that conversation many times, never knowing what it meant. I would say, “I love you” as if I were saying the term “Moooom” repeatedly without needing any reason to call her. I am sure my parents just thought that it was darling. This was like the time in sixth grade in which I called everyone a “faggot,” never knowing its meaning. If I knew the meaning of “faggot” and all its implications I would never have uttered the term. Likewise, if I knew the meaning of “love” and all its implications I would have used it more sparingly and more seriously. Why are children’s acts of niceness so warming to adults? They do not understand life or what they are doing. They do not reason like adults. I would find it more touching for an adult to reach out to me than an ignorant child. To me, the phrase “I love you” lost meaning a long time ago. Both of my parents worked so hard for me, but instead of instilling hard work for the sake of giving, it instilled in me the virtues of hard work for the sake of receiving, for children think in terms of punishment and rewards. I was brutally aware of the fault I had, as I have never been able to find it in myself to give back to them.
- Fulghum, Robert. All I Really Need to Know I Learned in Kindergarten. Random House: New York. 1988.
- Tyler, Anne. Dinner at the Homesick Restaurant. New York: Fawcett Columbine, 1982. 275.