Several years ago, I remember reading the popular book "Everything You Need to Know, You Learned as a Kindergartener." It was a compilation of life lessons, simplified and retold through the eyes of a five-year-old child. Much of it could be taken to heart and put to good use.
Share your lunch if someone else forgets theirs.
Pick up your trash.
Practice your reading.
Brush your teeth every morning and every night.
Know the difference between your inside-voice and your outside-voice.
I was reminded of the simple wisdom of these concepts, through an experience with my own five-year-old, last week.
He came home from school and announced that there was a new boy in his class. When I asked his name, I got an answer. When I asked for more details, I got silence. My son reported that he had not really talked to the new boy, only gone about his usual routine of class and recess. I subtly suggested that it would be nice to "make friends" and that this new boy would probably love it if my son made the effort.
The response? "Okay, Mom. How do you make friends?"
We ended up talking about inviting the boy to play at recess, making sure he had a place to sit at lunch, asking him some questions....but, ultimately, "making friends" is an age-old art form that is inately learned and then should not be forgotten.
A few days later, my son happily reported:
"Mom, making friends is actually really easy!"
Great. Tell me more.
"Here's what you do, Mom. You just tell the new boy where the best rock digging spots are on the playground. After that, you're all set!"
I certainly smiled at that simplification, and then went on with my day.
Little did I know that I'd have my own chance to make friends and follow my five-year-old's advice.
At a volunteer group meeting, a new member sat down next to me, just as we were starting. At break time, I found myself seraching out my old friends and catching up on their lives. I happened to see our new member sitting alone, across the room and suddenly realized that I should practice what I had preached to my son. But, wait, this is hard! I haven't had to make friends in awhile. Could I still do this?
Like some kind of cosmic voice, I heard my son's definition in my head: "You just have to tell her where the best rock digging spots are!"
Suddenly, I knew just what to say. Off I went.
"Hello." I said. "I thought you might like to know that the really good snacks are actually on the table up by the front of the room. The snack table near the entrance never has the chocolate!"
Smiles all around and an immediate connection. It turned out that we knew someone in common and ended up chatting all the way through the meeting. Even as a grown-up, richness is found in friends and I am thrilled to have found a new one.
Lesson learned. Now, my son and I have both had the opportunity to hone our "friend-making-skills." Perfect.