All I Really Need to Know I Learned in Kindergarten

In a time I don’t care to count back to, I was a junior in high school. I mostly floated my way through school until I met my English teacher that year, Anthony Capatano, Mr. Cap. He was an interesting and eccentric man, who made the class interesting. At some point he handed me a book, All I Really Need to Know I Learned in Kindergarten by Robert Fulghum. The book is short, coming in around 240 pages, comprised of 50 short essays of various lengths. He collected theses stories written for various audiences over the years. The books title came from the first essay about how the most important rules in life he learned in Kindergarten, and how the world would be better if we followed those rules.

1. Share everything.
2. Play fair.
3. Don’t hit people.
4. Put thngs back where you found them.
5. CLEAN UP YOUR OWN MESS.

The list continues for 11 more items. What he says really makes sense. Admittedly it’s been sometime since I was in Kindergarten, so I’m not sure what they teach them anymore. Hopefully it hasn’t changed much, because these lessons are really important. This is how people should live their lives.

The book continues with many different stories. One of my favorites he talked about the simple act of doing laundry and how it relates to life. He explains how he likes to use Cheer detergent because he enjoyes the idea of a happy wash. The chapter ends with one of my favorite lines of the book. “Don’t try Cheer by the way. I tasted it. It’s awful. (But my tongue is clean, now).”

I offer this quote with no context. ““A giraffe has a black tongue twenty-seven inches long and no vocal cords. A giraffe has nothing to say. He just goes on giraffing.”

This was one of the first things I read that was in tune with my thinking and humor. I wasn’t much of a reader in my youth so for me to pick up a book was a rarity. I’m sure the only reason I did was because Mr. Cap asked me. I couldn’t put it down. I read it through the rest of my classes and all evening at home, finishing it before the next day. When I returned it Mr. Cap was a little upset and confused, he said he wanted me to read all of it. I told him I did, read it all day yesterday. He said he didn’t mean for me to “waste my evening.” He was a difficult man to understand, but he kept pushing me.

I think I’ve owned about 5 copies of this book over the years. I pick it up every so often, read it, and give it to someone I think could use it. He’s written other books but I’ve honestly never gotten to them. This is a slice of life book that I think everyone could benefit from reading. I guarantee there’s at least one story that will resonant with you.

On a personal note, Mr. Cap told me at the end of the year that I had a fire in my gut, and it would never go out, I just needed to find my place in life. If only he could see me now.

What’s your favorite slice of life story? Any recommendations? Comment or tweet!

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