For more about Allison and her books visit her website at For now, please relax and brace yourself for the occasionally coherent ramblings of Allison's mind.

Sunday, May 15, 2011

Back to the Basics: Preschool Lessons for Adults

So we’re watching a sickly sweet turtle lament the destruction of his brand new jacket thanks to the careless antics of a neighbor bear. It didn’t have to end that way, but the bear just couldn’t keep his hands to himself. It makes more sense in context. Really. See, the thing is, you’re supposed to be careful with your friends’ things. And if your friends ruin your stuff, you’re supposed to forgive them and accept their apology. That’s what the singing owl teaches us anyway.

This got me thinking, the annoying show has a decent lesson. I know some adults who could benefit from a refresher course in discerning intent and offering forgiveness. Then I realized all my son’s shows have lessons that we were supposed to learn as children but a lot of us have forgotten. Here are some other common preschool themes from which adults could benefit.

#1 Share your stuff.

Nobody likes the stingy, nearsighted pill bug who hoards all the juneberries. Nobody likes Jerry in Accounting who hoards the medium tip red gel pens. Generosity isn’t just for the receiving party, it’s for the giver too. If you want to keep your life in the proper perspective and your priorities straight, give. Don’t just loan, give. Money should be a means to an end, not an end in itself. Objects should bring enjoyment, not be a trophy. There’s no better way to demonstrate that and remind yourself about what’s actually important in your life than to be generous with the stuff that shouldn’t be. And besides, you’re going to want to be known as the giving grasshopper not the greedy pill bug when you could benefit from a helping hand one day.

#2 Whining won’t get you anywhere.

All they wanted to do was have a nice camping trip, but the grumbling pig princess ruined it for everyone. She didn’t like camping, you see, so she made sure no one else did either.

Hey, let’s face it, we all have our moments. We seem to be genetically predisposed to complain. But just remember this next time it’s “so hot your face is melting.” Psychology 101 tells us that we cut ourselves a whole lot more slack than we cut other people. What does that mean? It means you can easily convince yourself you’re perfectly justified in your rage that the drive-through guy forgot your straw, but your coworker will think you’re a lunatic. Before you complain to those around you, imagine how your “problem” will sound to others. How do their “problems” sound to you? Didn’t you think Frank sounded crazy whining about the broken window on his yacht? What about Cathy’s stolen lawn ornament?

If you’re still tempted, imagine how your struggles would sound to a survivor from coastal Japan, or a resident of the flood and tornado ravaged south, or a poverty-stricken parent watching their children starving to death. The truth is, you may be talking to the equivalent and not know it. The people with the biggest problems tend to be the ones who keep quiet about them.

So you said your piece about the straw and the heat. Now what? You still don’t have a straw and it’s still hot. And now you look like an idiot.

#3 People move away. Deal with it.

It’s amazing how many preschool characters have friends, aunts, cousins, and classmates who move. After a half hour of drama, the child (or animal, or unidentifiable talking thing) is basically told to suck it up. Things change. Move on.

This one ties in well with #2 above and #5 below. Something didn’t go well for you? You can either let that define and destroy you, or take away its power and move on. We give our problems their power and we always have a choice. Even if we can’t change our circumstances, we can choose our reaction. We tell kids to suck it up and get over their dilemmas all the time. Why shouldn’t that apply to most of our problems?

#4 Don’t bite your friends.

Just don’t. That’s gross.

#4a Don’t lick your friends.

Also gross.

#5 No one likes a sore loser…or a sore winner.

If it shocks you that things won’t always go the way you hope, then you have either lived a very sheltered life, or are the luckiest person on the planet. For most of us, we lose more than we win, and half the time we don’t even recognize a win until well after the fact. You can either be the koala who takes his ball and goes home or the miniature, weird-looking tiger who’s victory makes everyone else want to go home. You’d probably benefit from taking neither approach. Be the rational one who remembers every victory leaves a wake of jealousy and resentment. Every loss will only compound if you let it consume you. Remember cutting yourself slack? Others won’t, so watch your perspective.

I’ll stop at five. You get the idea. And I’m not preaching (#8). I’m as guilty as the next person of breaking these rules – with the exception of biting and licking your friends. I haven’t done that in awhile.

No comments:

Post a Comment