About 30 years after, as a matter of fact.
Because all though the wisdom from Robert Fulghum's sage words is timeless, all I really need to know about how to live and what to do and how to be I learned once I had children. And they started kindgarten. I thought I had a broad base of knowledge, having lived for more than 30 years, obtained a college diploma and a graduate degree. But wisdom is not dispensed with sheepskins, but at story time, or in the grocery store, or doing a third grade science project on Jupiter. These are the things I
- Share everything (including all your waffle fries at Chick-Fil-A, the last Oreo Ball in the container, and a sip of your precious Diet Coke - germs aren't harmful if they're from your kids, right?)
- Play fair, this means NOT moving the neopolitan ice cream card to the bottom of the deck in Candyland so there's no hope of drawing it as you're approaching the end of that interminable game).
- Don't hit people. (This is a tough one as a well-timed swat on the booheiney was rather effective in curbing certain preschool behaviors)
- Put things back where you found them. (This includes your school books, shoes, bath towels, Scotch tape and Mommy's hairbrush)
- Clean up your own mess. (Yes, the crayon shavings and wrappers on the dining room floor constitute a "mess")
- Don't take things that aren't yours. (This means Mom's waffle fries!!!)
- Say you're sorry when you hurt somebody. (And give them a hug and a kiss).
- Wash your hands before you eat. (Yes, you have to wash them again if you pet the dog on the way to the kitchen).
- Flush. (Calling all boys who live in my household: this means YOU)
- Warm cookies and cold milk are good for you. (as are Oreo balls and Diet Coke)
- Live a balanced life - learn some and think some and draw and paint and sing and dance and play and work every day some. (And homework shouldn't take all afternoon. Play outside. Run. Scream - outside only - laugh with your friends. Then come in and help me set the table).
- Take a nap every afternoon. (Or at least go to bed without much complaint)
- When you go out in the world, watch out for traffic, hold hands and stick together. (School pick up time is a particular hazard. So is the Walmart parking lot on a Sunday afternoon).
- 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. (Dream about aliens. Imagine yourself a ninja. Keep thinking the Wild Bird Walkabout at the Caldwell Zoo is the most magical place on earth.)
- Goldfish and hamsters and white mice and even the little seed in the Styrofoam cup - they all die. (So do two frogs and countless goldfish). So do we. (even if it's incredibly hard to explain to a 5 year old and a 3 year old that PawPaw went to heaven, then have to explain it again just a year later when Mimi followed).
- And then remember the Dick-and-Jane books and the first word you learned - the biggest word of all - LOOK. (and it's often better to watch and listen than it is to speak)