The wisdom of a 5 year old

I called my twin 5-year-old nieces this week to say “Happy Kindergarten Graduation” and see if they were excited about summer.  A bit of background, niece #3 all year has listed her favorite events of the kindergarten day as “lunch” and “recess” to the point that I found myself saying “aside from lunch and recess, what did you like about school today?” when talking to her.

me – to niece #3: “Are you glad to be finished with school?” (They ended on Thursday.)
niece #3: “I have to go back.”
me: “You do?” (thinking maybe they had ice storm make up days).
niece #3: “Yes, next year for first grade. You don’t just go to school for one year.”

I bit my cheeks to stop the laughter.  She was dead pan serious and not the least bit upset/disappointed that she had to go back again next year.  Yes, there is probably something to the fact that her brothers will be entering 10th and 8th grades in the fall, and her non-twin sister will be entering the 8th grade combined with the fact her mother is a teacher helped her make this correct assumption.

But what a metaphor.  Don’t stop learning.  Ever.  Be it from learning about social media, how to program the clock in the car or more in-depth: deciding to educate yourself from a variety of perspectives on an issue, a point in history (usually, there are 2 sides to most historical conflicts neither of which is the romanticized, mythological view-point that is generally passed off as history) or a pressing local issue.  Many people stop learning at the programming of the DVR (or other such tasks).

I remember trying to prepare how to answer my grandmother’s dreaded question of “what did you learn today?” as a tweener (nothing wasn’t an answer . . .).  Looking back, I see how a quest for knowledge, to constantly be learning something (from lousy tennis skills, to a  few knitting projects gone bad, to tossing a few pans from culinary experimentation gone terrifically wrong, to reading about WW II in the Pacific before the US involvement and more than a few nerd casts, I’m constantly learning) is instilled at an early age. Ok, granted my answer of how I know that lobsters mate for life did come from Phoebe on Friends and yes, I did defend my knowledge of this fact citing Phoebe, chances are I’m reading a few books on one topic, listening to nerdcasts on a second and watching some weird docudrama on a third.

But I still had a laugh on my by one of my 3 favorite protagonists; and found myself a bit jealous because in August, they all get shiny erasers, new pencils and skills to conquer.  It’s easy to stop learning except what is needed.  To quote Edmund Burke, “all that is necessary for the triumph of evil is for good men to do nothing”: it is very hard to do nothing when one keeps on learning, year after year.  Even if you don’t get the shiny erasers and trapper keepers (do they even make trapper keepers anymore?) in the fall.


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3 Responses to “The wisdom of a 5 year old”

  1. Titus Says:

    Absolutely no reason you can’t get new erasers or school supplies every year of your life. I make it a habit to shop boxes of my favorite ink pens during the sales: Uniballs in blue, both fine and medium& in medium black. I like mechanical pencils and of course must have erasers. And Sharpies! Sharpies of every color and size, enough that I keep a small tool box with a little card of what has gone dry and been tossed so I can justify replacements. I’d make any NEFAn proud with my toolboxes of supplies, yes even a box of Duct tape and other assorted tapes.
    Proper tools of learning, the sheer physicalness of having them at hand: the paper, the colors, the sizes of the nibs, an array of screwdrivers and a pipe wrench, a vast work surface – yes, dinner will be served over the sink – what joy! And it’s not just for little girls.

  2. zebrastravels Says:

    hahaha. i hit the bts sales as well! i think it’s more the pure enthusiasm for everything that 5-7 yo’s can capture.

  3. Evaline Says:

    Glad I’ve finally found smoething I agree with!

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