Kindergarten Rules

or remembering the wisdom of Robert Fulghum

Photo by Ariel Lustre on Unsplash

Dropping you off at pre-school today, you saw your friend Jane and immediately ran up to her. Both of you laughed and jumped with excitement. Jane’s mom was there and told me that she had also talked about your fight on Monday. Clearly, you two had forgiven one another and got back to what really mattered: running around and laughing. Jane’s mom and I were a little jealous.

To be honest, I was sort of expecting this. Rarely did I stay mad at friends when there was fun to be had. Qualms over socks and toys didn’t seem to matter much when you needed a partner to play tag. As I watched you play, I was reminded of a short essay by a writer/philosopher named Robert Fulghum. The title is “All I Really Need to Know I Learned in Kindergarten.” When you are older and ready for books without pictures, we will be reading this one… probably a lot.

I bring up this book because, today, my prayer is not really for you as much as it is for me. I say this because there is a lot of anger and hostility in the world. Your mother and I are trying to hide it from you as much as we can, but unfortunately, sometimes when I come home, sad and tired, you pick up on it pretty quickly.

Part of the problem is that many adults in the world, myself included, have forgotten many of the simple rules that you live by in your pre-school. Fulghum points out a few, “Share everything. Play fair… Don’t take things that aren’t yours.” These things sort of come naturally to you though I have to remind you from time to time with your sister. Yet, somewhere along the line, adults forget about these simple rules for any number of reasons.

We forget to “take a nap every afternoon” and instead cut back on sleep to be more productive. This rarely works and just makes us more irritable and frenetic when we fall behind.

We also forget to “say you’re sorry when you hurt somebody.” This is a big one that adults don’t do and in the age of technology where you can belittle someone with the touch of a button, you don’t have to see the person you’re hurting.

So, with this prayer, I pray that you hold onto your childhood rules as long as possible and hold me accountable to them as well. You did this tonight when I snuck a piece of spaghetti from your plate without asking. You may think me a bit naïve simplifying things with these rules. I think I’m a bit naïve a lot of the time too, but perhaps if we remember to “hold hands and stick together” when we go out into the world, the human contact will remind us what truly matters.


To learn more about Robert Fulghum’s writings and work, please check out his website:

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