Wisdom of a kindergartner
Who can forget the excitement of the first week of a new school year?
For me, a perpetual student, it brings to mind the scents of the wood, rubber and lead of fresh, never-used pencils, the beauty of a 500-sheet pack of pristine notebook paper, protectively encased in plastic (which, at one time, you could buy for 99 cents) and brand new, you only get them once a year, school shoes.
With these memories foremost in my mind, I looked forward to hearing how the first week of school went for the children in our family.
My niece Emily had just finished her first week in kindergarten when she and her mom, Karen, came to the farm for a visit on Saturday afternoon. As Karen and I settled into our lawn chairs beneath the shade of the sugar maple tree, Emily frolicked around us, romping with Buddy, our yellow lab, Missy, our tri color collie, and Little Joe, our BoJack (Boston/Jack Russell terrier).
Five year old Emily, was precocious. She walked well before her first birthday and her vocabulary was remarkable. You could tell her mother read to her daily when she described an object as being “black as evony.”
Another time, she said, “Aunt Becky, let’s go out and sit on the stupid.”
“Do you mean sit on the stoop?”
“Yes, the stoop,” she corrected herself.
As a rule, Emily was neat and tidy with her clothes. Her family lived in the city and their front lawn and back garden were well-tended, with few opportunities for a child to get much more than a grass stain on a knee. When she came to the farm, however, it was a different story. She and I loved to get grubby, messing in the dirt in our oldest play clothes and worn out canvas shoes, rubber boots or garden clogs.
I especially remember one particular occasion when Emily spent the night. She was four. We played all the next morning along the banks of the narrow creek that meandered between the lawn and the meadow. Apparently, Emily had forgotten it was nearly time to go home, because when the sweaty and disheveled tyke saw her mother’s car heading up the gravel road, she began to wail.
“No!” One tear and then another left trails in the dust on her little pink cheeks. “I don’t want to go home yet.”
As Karen she stepped out of the minivan, she smiled.
“That is the mark of a good hostess,” I grinned, sheepishly. “If your guests burst into tears when they have to leave, you know you’ve done your job.”
But back to the first week of kindergarten….
I couldn’t wait to hear what Emily thought.
“Emily, what did you learn in school this week?”
Without hesitation, she planted her feet, giving me her undivided attention and, with the enthusiasm and cadence of a midget league cheerleader, began to recite:
”Galatians five, twenty-two and twenty-three. ‘But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. Against such things there is no law.’”
My jaw dropped. I was speechless.
I’d been expecting her to report on finger painting, newly made friends and brightly colored playground equipment. Instead, these timeless words of wisdom were planted in her mind and written on her tender little heart.
You might expect this from Emily’s Christian school, but I had a similar experience in public school years ago.
When I was in third grade, two men who called themselves “Gideons” visited my small rural school. They were kind and gentle fellows, reminding me of my Uncle Harry. They even looked like him, with their salt and pepper colored hair and their funny old people glasses.
Before handing each of us our own little New Testament to keep, they said they had a song to teach us. We were, of course, delighted. We loved singing almost as much as art. The tune, they told us, was easy to remember. It the same as Silent Night. Here are the words:
“John 3:16, John 3:16. For God so loved the world that He
gave His only begotten son that
whosoever believeth in Him
should not perish but have
That was close to 60 years ago and I remember it like yesterday. I wasn’t old enough to fully grasp the meaning of the message, but the words themselves remain etched in my mind and on my heart.
Emily remembers as well.
I am thankful for Emily’s teacher and teachers everywhere.
I am thankful for the Gideon organization for what they taught me that day, and for the years they have dedicated to placing hope in the form of Bibles in hotel and rooms, jails, medical offices, hospitals, and other public places. Only God knows how many lives were changed by their actions. I know mine was.
Lord, thank you for children and the teachers who educate them. Protect them, keep them from harm, give them strength, courage and encouragement to face the challenges of this school year. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.