- 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
- Warm cookies and cold milk are good for you
- Live a balanced life - learn some and think some and draw and paint and sing and dance and play and work every day some.
- Take a nap every afternoon
- When you go out in the world, watch out for traffic, hold hands and stick together.
- Be aware of wonder. Remember the little seed in the Styrofoam cup: the roots go down and the plant goes up and nobody really knows how or why, but we are all like that.
- Goldfish and hamsters and white mice and even the little seed in the Styrofoam cup - they all die. So do we.
- And then remember the Dick-and-Jane books and the first word you learned - the biggest word of all - LOOK.
Between home and kindergarten, I did learn those things listed above. I also learned some really important lessons in Mrs. Yount's third grade classroom. That is when I got my first black eye, first broken bone, first "D," first "F," and first got nailed for trying to give a book report on a book I hadn't read. Those were all really important lessons, and I thank Mrs. Yount often for caring enough to teach me so early and for not backing down.
The black eye came from playing tackle-the-man-with-the-ball at recess. She never told me to quit playing with the boys, but she did have some good advice for staying out of the way. The broken arm was from doing the crab walk during recess. Not much advice needed there except that an object in motion remains in motion even when your wrist gets twisted and stops moving but the rest of you doesn't. Lesson learned? It's school; quite acting like a bull in a china shop.
The other lessons were some of the most valuable. I remember trying to skim through a book just enough to give a book report in front of the class, but I didn't skim nearly well enough. I even remember what the cover looked like; it was a book on magic tricks. Mrs. Yount was not fooled in the least and didn't hesitate to let me know it was apparent that I hadn't read the book. No credit for that one - lack of preparation.
One day, I also forgot to take my math worksheets home and finish them. When she collected the papers the next morning, it hit me square in the face. I had completed about half of one and hadn't even started on the other. She didn't offer to let me stay in and finish them during recess or hand them in at the end of the day. They were due that morning and I screwed up. When she handed those back, I got my first "D" and "F" grades. I was thoroughly embarrassed and had to explain the grades to my parents. I was also embarrassed to even look at Mrs. Yount, but she was very compassionate and matter-of-fact when she explained that homework is due first thing in the morning; that's just the way it is. I'm glad she taught me that lesson early, and I've never forgotten it (or another homework assignment) - responsibility.
A few years down the line, I learned another good lesson from the band director, Mr. Schunks. Our school had a carnival each spring, and the 7th through 12th grade classes each built floats for the parade and booths to collect votes for carnival king and queen. When I was in the 7th grade, a few of us heard through the grapevine that the high school kids were allowed to work on their booths (they were located in the school gym where the carnival was to be held) during the school day. Word on the street was that some teachers would let them out of class to do this. A group of us thought, well, if that's the case, we'll skip band and work on our booth. Bad idea. We had not heard correctly, and we each lost our seats in our section (most of us were first or second chair) for the upcoming concert. Just as Mrs. Yount had done, Mr. Schunks didn't waiver. We messed up (bigger than we realized) and there was a price to pay for that. Not only were we busted to last chair, we also had to challenge our way back up to first chair to regain our seats. This lesson? There are always consequences for your actions...even if you make A's and sit first chair.
I'm glad that Mrs. Yount, Mr. Schunks, and all of my other teachers taught me and my friends these lessons. I'm also glad that my Mom and Dad didn't try to bail me out. I'm not sure why this was on my mind today, but I think it is a good topic anytime...kind of like those things you learned in kindergarten.