I was bad at Kindergarten.
Yes, growing up a small, frightened, sheltered kid meant my daily trip to grade zero was the same as blasting me to the moon for six hours a day. I was helpless and alone, down on my own, in a cold and distant unknown.
Honestly, I was so shy I didn’t talk to anyone, anytime, ever. I would stare at my shoes while coloring, face the wall at nap time and hide under evergreens at recess.
Yes, I was the kindergarten ghost, a skinny, snot-nosed phantom who haunted the classroom by sitting in the corner all day playing with his zipper. Really, the only time I was less than ten feet from the other kids was when we sat in a circle around a trash can centerpiece every day at lunchtime.
My mom packed me a loaded paper bag for just the occasion each day.
Yes, I’d pull out a bologna sandwich and still have a juice box, granola bar and cheese string left over. Since I was about three feet tall and clocked in around forty pounds, I usually just ate half the sandwich and quietly threw everything else into the centerpiece.
My massively wasteful ways continued until one day in mid-October when my teacher Mrs. Armstrong mindlessly peeked into the trash can while walking by.
“Wait a minute,” she called out, reaching in to pick up my perfectly wrapped up food. “Who threw this out?”
I suppose my wide eyes, swinging legs and chin-to-chest pose gave me away because she walked right over to me.
“Neil, did you throw this out?”
I nodded without looking up, thinking I was about to get smacked, sent to the principal’s office or expelled completely for my cheese-tossing ways. But she lowered herself to my level and said,
“Neil, do you see Matthew over there?”
I looked up at a dirty-faced kid picking his nose with a pencil on the other side of the circle.
“Well, Matthew doesn’t have enough food for his lunch. He’s still hungry. Would it be okay to give Matthew the granola bar you don’t want?”
I nodded again and this time Mrs. Armstrong beamed and spoke loudly for everyone.
“Neil, this is called sharing. Giving things to other people is sharing with them. Thank you for sharing your lunch with Matthew.”
She passed the granola and cheese to Matthew who gobbled it down quickly while I sat tall in the golden praise from my teacher. I felt great and could hear my inner head gears spinning in all directions.
Sparks flew inside my five-year-old brain as I slowly made a bit more sense of the weird and wild world around us.
Yes, when it suddenly just clicks it suddenly feels awesome.
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- Assistant Ed: Cat Beekmans/Ed: Bryonie Wise
[Phota via Neil Pasricha on 1000 Awesome Things]