Listen Up, Kindergarten Grads
It’s a pleasure to speak at your kindergarten graduation. I thoroughly enjoyed that stirring rendition of Hokey Pokey. I’m glad to see everybody got back what they put in. I’m not sure why anybody asked me to speak here today. Somebody did ask me to speak here today, right? I’m only a 22-year-old dude, a big kid not much older than you. What do I have to say? Not much, but here’s what I know:
We all pass gas. There’s not one kid in the jungle gym who hasn’t laid an egg. It’s stinky and stanky and, yes, even sticky, but don’t blame the kid next to you. Admit it. Keep moving. The gas will pass. Don’t pass gas on purpose. Nobody wants to be friends with a fake farter. But you’re never too old to use a Whoopee Cushion. Those are funny. You’re actually never too old to do mostly anything. But you are far too young to understand The Lion King. Note: No one, not even Simba, understands the line at the beginning of “Circle of Life.” It’s totally fine. Enjoy the story.
Find time for Story Time. Stories grow in books and on screens. The best ones grow in people. And everyone has a story growing inside. You know when you walk upstairs with a filled cup of water and you think, “I hope I don’t spill any splashes?” That’s how careful you should listen when people share their story. Stay thirsty, but easy on the soda. Don’t even ask, mini bros, I’m not buying you root beer. Too much soda makes you hyper and too much hyper lands you in time out. But if you are too hyper, call me. I won’t tattle. Know, however, that there’s a difference between tattling and telling the truth.
Come home for dinner after you run away. But one day, hopefully when you’re my age, run away. It’ll hurt like a bee sting. Put on a Band-Aid. Ripping off the Band-Aid hurts more than the bee sting. Once it’s gone, you can see the cool scar. Or your doctor will give you candy.
Hold off on the recess wedding. Buddy, she deserves more than a ring pop. The marriage survival rate among kindergarteners is zero percent. Those conditions might make you worse off than your parents. Confused? Here’s a secret: We all are. Nothing always adds up.
The only math that counts: Teacher + lunch lady + bus driver + janitor + best friend + principal + secretary + librarian + art and music and gym teachers + school nurse = Mom and Dad.
Speaking of math, put the Tooth Fairy’s money in your piggy bank. The ice cream truck will come again. Eat your vegetables. I don’t like steamed broccoli any more than you do. But using your fork to climb the broccoli Tree of Life? Now that’s a good time. Brush your teeth.
OK, this is teenage level material. Ready? Hannah Montana and Spider-Man are not real. Being a pop star or a pro athlete aren’t your only career paths. You have more options. Did you hear me? You always have options. Superheroes don’t live inside your family room TV. They do live in your family room, though. Unless Lion King is on, turn off Disney Channel. Look around.
Santa is real. Lots of really smart people say that by the time you hit double digits, the North Pole might have melted. But believe me, Santa will survive; my grandma told me and she knew the guy. When he re-checks the Naughty or Nice List, don’t take any chances.
It’s always sunny with a chance, but still check the weather. And never, ever trust what the weather dude says about snow. He’s lying. You will have school tomorrow. So do your homework, but never on Fridays. The best teachers never give homework on Fridays. They assign coloring instead. Your class has the most colors in their crayon box. Make a better picture. Play with all of them. Share. Being a big kid has nothing to do with your size. Bullies are babies. They haven’t learned to walk. They’re jealous you can. Walk on. Be a leader.
You won’t always be line leader, but you can always be door holder. And without door holders, line leaders would just walk into doors, crash and fall down. Door-holding is a thankless job. Say, “thank you”—it’s the biggest gold-star sticker you can give someone.
Be thankful you’re not a zoo animal. Sometimes Little League will feel like a cage. Angry adults scream like hyenas. They belong in the zoo, not you. It doesn’t matter how good you kick, pass, shoot or score. Chin up, lion cub. What matters is that you keep moving. But look both ways before you cross the street. Look ahead, too. Moving forward in the wrong direction leads to where the sidewalk ends. Still, left or right: Either way is basically the same. Lost? Ask directions, but not from a stranger.
Sorry, my bad. You knew that already. You’re an elementary schooler now. You’ve got the super-cool t-shirt to prove it. Save it, by the way. That shirt is magic. It’ll make your muscles look huge when you’re my age. Alright, little dudes and dudettes, your parents are looking at their watches. Their time is almost up and you have places to be. Me? Well, I’m just bored.
But take it from a dude who just graduated college: Everything you use in life you learned in kindergarten. The rest is just the final exam. The stinky and stanky and yes, even sticky, world is banking that you pass. Hakuna matata!