Made for College: Life Lessons I Learned in Kindergarten

My first day of Kindergarten went a little something like this: ditch mom ASAP at first sight of newer, shinier toys, touch and play with toys, disregard any and all hand-outs and shove them into my Hello Kitty bag for mom to deal with, chase boys on the playground, eat lunch surrounded by strange, future friends, sit on the circle carpet, play more games (Show and Tell!) and wait for mom to come back.
My first day of college? Well, much of the same: ditch mom and dad after they take me downtown to eat at an expensive restaurant but don’t marvel at the used, rusted bed frame, desk and chair; shove any and all syllabi materials into a folder and go back to texting on my BlackBerry, chase down the closest seat to the cutest cutie in the room (but don’t get too close, you’ll look desperate), eat lunch surrounded by strange, potential friends and wait for my final class to end to call mom and dad.
I wish I could have pressed rewind and told my six-year-old self to remember exactly how I felt on my first day of kindergarten because 12 years later I’d be retracing my steps as a freshman in college. Reason #4353453578768 why life should come with a remote.
Unfortunately, life doesn’t come with a remote. (I mean, really, what are the Apple geniuses and Bill Gates of the world doing if they’re not inventing people-activated remotes yet!?)
So, uh, like I was saying… oh, yeah, life doesn’t come with a remote and ultimately we end up repeating a lot of the same life lessons and experiences in different contexts and locations. That being said, let’s connect the dots of kindergarten and college! I guarantee the same smooth moves you were making in your Velcro LA Gear Light-Ups you’re still making today in your slip on TOMS.
How, you may be asking yourself, does one come to know such things?
Setting aside my refined, exclusive investigative talents and my keen sense of intellect… it’s all in the playbook; the rules; The Dummies’ Guide To; The Barron’s Book of… all right there, folks.
I’m shouting out all you soon-to-be freshmen right now. The life lessons you already learned in your first few days of kindergarten you get to learn again in your first few days of college. It’s like holding the answer key to your chemistry test while retaking the exam. Bingo!
The first rule is to make a friend. Anyone. Anywhere. Now is not the time to be picky. Just pick someone. Like the days of playing in the sandbox outside Mrs. Jones’ classroom, you just need that initial human contact to get the blood flowing. Once you make a friend, you’re golden. The luxury of kindergarten is that friend might be attached to your hip all day but in college, that might not be the case. Instead, think ahead. In kindergarten it was new station, new friend, so in college just follow that same system: new class, new friend, new dorm, new friend, new lab, new friend… you get the idea, right? Chances are that by the end of your first two months of college (maybe even kindergarten, too) your initial friends will now just be acquaintances. You’ll figure your own friend circle out soon enough and you’ll coordinate when and where to meet for lunch, whether or not you have classes together and how close your dorm rooms are from one another. Until then, I’m begging you, just find a friend.
The second lesson you learn in kindergarten is partners. While in kindergarten your teacher is in charge of picking partners, on the college end you can blame (or thank) the registrar for picking your “partner.” When you’re six, your partner is the person that hangs that book-bag up next to yours, stands in line next to you, walks to and from recess with you, shares a chore with you, reads books with you and makes sure to check that you’ve pushed in your chair and cleaned off your desk. At college they’re really upping the ante with this whole partner thing. In this day and age, you actually live with your partner. Forget the three o’clock bus driving you to safety! Meet your new partner, your roommate. You will either love her, hate her or be totally indifferent toward her (a.k.a. you hate her but are trying to be above such negative language). Luckily, kindergarten and college make it possible for you to opt out of this whole partner situation. If you really don’t get along with your partner, cry. Cry, cry, cry. Your kindergarten teachers will do something to make the circumstances livable and if they can’t, they’ll give you a new partner. The Higher Up’s at college make it a little more complicated. Request a move. Talk to your R.A. And if you must, cry.
Try not to become a hysterical, sobbing mess if and when you get lost.  Kindergarteners and freshmen in college are the easiest targets to spot in a school setting because they always have that Mom-just-caught-us-with-the-lights-on look about them. As a former kindergartener (many, many moons ago) and a former freshman (in more recent history), I’ve been in your disoriented, lost and confused shoes one too many times to count. It happens to us all, even if we are too prideful and say it never did, rest assured because it definitely did. Give yourself the benefit of the doubt, college freshies, and carry a map. Or go explore campus during freshman orientation. Walk from class building to class building and try to at least familiarize yourself with your surroundings. I’d tell you to take notes on where to go, but lets face it, I didn’t and neither will you. For all you Kindergarteners out there, if you lose your way and all else fails remember this: you are a tiny, six-year-old little, harmless adorable human. Someone will find you if you are lost. But if that person takes too long, you have every right to cock your teeny, tiny head toward the clouds and wail your heart out.
“Everybody else was doing it”…. eh, not such a good excuse anymore.  If Jimmy and Tommy were throwing rocks at the girls at recess, then Johnny, that doesn’t mean it’s a good idea for you to do it, too. Bad, bad, bad idea. Even worse idea when you start throwing around phrases like cops, LSD, underage drinking, destroying school property, drawing on your R.A.’s door and flooding all the toilets on the first and third floor bathrooms. To all my future trouble makers: although it may be exciting and spur-of-the-moment because all your trouble making friends are doing it too, do yourself a favor and do it better so that you don’t get caught. Five o’clock in the morning phone calls home begging for bail money isn’t exactly the best way to get on mom and dad’s good graces.  Plus, if mom and dad find out you were in time-out, kiss Nick at Night and dessert goodbye!
This last lesson might take longer than a week for little kindergartener’s to truly get a firm grasp of but all you veteran high school folk and freshly college freshies should know this one like the back of your hand.  Get involved! Be outgoing. Try new things. You’re in a whole new place with a once in a lifetime opportunity to reinvent yourself any which way you choose. Paint with your fingers or your toes. Hell, paint with your earlobes. Don’t be afraid to join a totally outrageous club or link up with the Librarians for Literacy movement. Go for a Naked Bike Ride or dread your hair. Who cares! You’re young and fresh, man. (Get it? Get my really good play on words? No? Okay. Fine.)
After feeding your eyeballs and brains with enough knowledge to last you your first week of kindergarten and college four times over, here’s my last piece of educated advice. Spend as much time as possible doing what you love. Keep doing it. Forever. Even if it’s playing with Legos or braiding Barbie’s hair. Let your passions drive you.

Candy Dish: The Perfect (Plastic) Couple
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