A few years ago, I had the opportunity to join my son and 40 other fun loving kindergartners on their class field trip. As we all got ready to get onto the bus, some were excited while others were nervous. When instructed, they all placed their lunches into a basket and lined up, ready to head out to the big yellow bus waiting for them outside. They giggled and chattered while heading outside where they climbed on board. They each started yelling “Zavier – sit by me!” “I want to sit by Lillian!” “Where can I sit?” Finally, we were all settled in and on our way.
As most kindergartners (who are bubbling up with anticipation at this point) might do – they got a tad loud. They were ready to join their friends for a day of fun. Even amongst the nearly deafening noise, I noticed all of these children talking to everyone around them. No whispers. No exclusions. I figured it was part of the excitement of heading to our destination.
40 minutes later we arrived at the museum and everyone listened and lined up. They all hung up their coats in orderly fashion. No one tried to butt to the front of the line. No one cared who hung up their coat first. They did not cut in front of one another and no one yelled. Again, I figured it was just excitement.
Once we were settled, we broke out into our groups and began to explore. I watched all of these kids playing together. No one cared that they had a different teacher or were not in the same class. They were out of school and at a museum where they were
allowed to encouraged to TOUCH everything! They had so much fun exploring together.
The moment which really struck me was lunch time. The kids all grabbed their lunches (which were filled with more Lunchables than I think I’ve seen outside of a grocery store display) and started eating. They all talked to one another. They laughed. No one was excluded.
Did you read that no one was excluded? These kids truly do not care what color of skin their classmate has. They don’t care that one of the kids might be a tad overweight. They don’t care if someone is not wearing name brand shoes. It didn’t matter if her hair was styled perfectly and she was wearing the perfect accessory. They don’t care if they are all different. In fact, I don’t think they even really noticed.
As I watched, my mind took these 40 children forward 18 years — to the high school cafeteria. Would any of these kids be shunned because of her size or the color of his skin? Would someone be excluded because he talked differently or because she was a smarter than the rest of them? Would the one who was an amazing athlete still talk to the kid who couldn’t run if his life depended upon it? Probably not. But then again, adults wouldn’t either.
You see, kindergartners live in the moment. They are excited to experience new things in life. They love learning. They love having so many friends to talk to and to play with. They don’t care about that other stuff. They don’t worry about where someone lives or what they have or don’t have.
I have often read All I Really Need To Know I Learned In Kindergarten, but it really struck me at this moment. I saw this in action – in front of my very own eyes. What I saw –I could tell these kids believed. What I wondered is when do they learn to hate others? More importantly — HOW do they learn this? Is it just something in their DNA? Do they learn it from parents, TV, magazines?
My guess is they learn this way of thinking through many influencers. I just wish that there were a way for kids not to pick up these bad habits. I just truly wish that they could keep the joy and faith in friends throughout their lives. Would there be bullying? Would anyone ever have to attend school in fear of being teased? Would anyone have to avoid lunch time or friends because he or she was excluded?
Can you just imagine what an amazing world this would be, if we all had the open mind of a kindergartner? Ponder that (while I reach for another juice box).