All You Need To Know

By Kate Riley January 29, 2010

Yesterday, I woke up on the wrong side of the bed, and started my day in a funk.  No reason in particular, just all of those obligations that pile up on adults that we allow to get us down.  Funny, waking up in a funk is rare for me because I typically skip-to-my-lou downstairs to make some Peet’s and eagerly grab my ‘To Do’ list.

So yesterday, I went downstairs to make breakfast for my kindergartener.  As I gathered her homework in her backpack to send her off to school, I spotted something I had never seen before.  The first page of her ‘First Journal’:

i like me

Then I got misty.  What honesty, what confidence, what sincerity (and what a fabulous rose garden) expressed by a five year old on an ordinary piece of lined paper.

My mood instantly changed.  One thing I relish more than anything are the lessons learned from the most unexpected sources.

Then I remembered another humble piece of paper that came home with her on the first day of school.  It was a much recited piece written two decades ago, but still rings true.  Many of you moms have heard these words before, but they bear repeating.

All I Ever Really Need to Know I Learned in Kindergarten

by Robert Fulghum

“Most of what I really need to know about how to live, and what to do, and how to be, I learned in Kindergarten.  Wisdom was not at the top of the graduate school mountain, but there in the sandbox at nursery school.

These are the things I learned:  Share everything.  Play fair.  Don’t hit people. Put things back where you found them.  Clean up your own mess.  Don’t take things that aren’t yours.  Say you’re sorry when you hurt somebody.  Wash your hands before you eat.  Flush.

Warm cookies and cold milk are good for you.  Live a balanced life.  Learn some and think some and draw and paint and sing and dance and play and work some every day.

Take a nap every afternoon.  When you go out into the world, watch for traffic, hold hands, and stick together.  Be aware of wonder.  Remember the little seed in the plastic cup.  The roots go down and the plant goes up and nobody really knows how or why, but we are all like that.

Goldfish and hamsters and white mice and even the little seed in the plastic cup – they all die.  So do we.

And then remember the book about ‘Dick and Jane’ and the first word you learned, the biggest word of all: Look. Everything you need to know is in there somewhere.  The Golden Rule and love and basic sanitation, ecology and politics and sane living.

Think of what a better world it would be if we all – the whole world – had cookies and milk about 3 o’clock every afternoon and then lay down with our blankets for a nap.

Or if we had a basic policy in our nation and other nations to always put things back where we found them and clean up our own messes. And it is still true, no matter how old you are, when you go out into the world, it is best to hold hands and stick together.”

Why is it that sentiments from kindergarten can grip the heart of a full grown cynical adult and bring her back to the reality of what really matters?

“Hold hands and stick together”

hold hands

“Take a nap every afternoon”

take a nap

“Warm cookies are good for you”

warm cookies

“Be aware of wonder”

bodega at sunsetBodega Head before sunset

“Share everything”

cutie with seagull

“The roots go down, the plant goes up . . . but we are all like that.”

Like how when you plant these . . .

lily of the valley bulbs

. . . this happens.

bug on lily of valley

Wishing you little moments filled with beauty from unexpected sources.

Have a lovely weekend.



  1. What lovely children you have! I to would have welled up in tears at that drawing. Most especially what she wrote! I hope she keeps that confidence in herself her entire life. I’m not her mother, nor do I even know her, but that makes MY heart swell with pride.

  2. Oh Kate…this is sooooo, so sweet! And exactly what I needed this week. I’ve been in a funk too. Thanks for snapping me out of it and putting it into perspective for me. What a precious little angel! You are so blessed!


  3. There’s not much more you could hope for as a mom than to see evidence that your daughter is confident! :) That means you’re doing a good job. I’ve always loved that little Fulghum piece, but your photos made it really special. :) Thanks for a great end to the week!

  4. Bravo! It brings tears to my eye too. How often do we forget those simple rules in life, and how true they are.

  5. Great post! I’m already being reminded of things like this from my daughter (11 months old). I really hope she starts her journal the same way.

  6. Thank you for putting a smile on my face!! This is the nicest thing I read today…

    Fortunately, I did not wake up in “a funk” , but I loved reading this post nonetheless…

    (And btw, I am framing these wise words by Robert Fulghum for a “funky” day!)

  7. Thank you for this! Tears even welled up in my eyes when I saw the drawing… one of the most important things we can do is to “like ourselves”… even with our flaws. This just might be a “framer” ;).

  8. What a GREAT post!!!! We are foster parents to a t tiny baby girl that was born on Jan 8 and we brought her home from the hospital on Jan 10 weighing just 5.9lbs! We are so hopeful that we’ll be able to adopt her. I asked God to let me just live in the moment with her…enjoying EVERY moment and so far it’s been joy for all of us! I’ll check that book out of the library and read it to her!!!
    (((HUGS))) Michelle

  9. What a beautiful post! It made me completely tear up. :-) Have a blessed weekend.

  10. What a great post. I love the little piece of paper…I’m sure you will frame it…that is a treasure.
    But my favorite picture is the one with your little sleepy one taking a nap! That got me.
    Have a blessed day!

  11. Now my day is brighter because of this precious posting – thank you! I adore those tender drawings of stick people and bright and wonderful colors. My home is flooded with them and they never cease to make me smile. Enjoy your weekend!

  12. Great post, my friend. Oh what we can learn from our children when we see the world through their eyes. “What I Learned in Kindergarten” is one of my favorites. thanks for the reminder.

  13. How wonderful, Kate! This is one of my dad’s favorite readings and remember him always reading it to me when I was younger. Thanks so much for posting this!

  14. Your children are beautiful! I can’t wait until I have children of my own to experience things like this. Have a great weekend too!

  15. Her journal page is just awesome. I hope she never loses that feeling. Beautiful post, Kate. This was exactly the reminder I needed for the weekend.

  16. Beautiful post, and what a wonderful treasure you happened upon. An excellent reminder for all of us. Thank you for sharing!

  17. What a great post, Kate! That text sounds familiar although I don’t think I ever purposely read it. I’m printing it out now, because it’s always good to have a reminder. I hope your daughter will always “like me”.

  18. This came at a really good time for me. I’ve been working long hours and feeling very stressed this week. These lessons are just as important at 26, as they were at 5 years old. Thanks for posting:)

  19. your post just really touched me this morning! thanks so much for sharing your daughters artwork:) how honest and wonderful children are at that age is how I wish we all were every day!

  20. We all need to write “I like me” on a post it and stick it on our bathroom mirrors :)

  21. What beautiful sentiment! It is lovely to have a child who is confident and unafraid to express such confidence. I hope I will be so lucky.

  22. This is beautiful. You should be proud of yourself for teaching her such a positive self image. She may not realize it now, but she is so smart and will be blessed for keeping that.

  23. Over & over again I’ve said how my boys are what keeps me on track. Children are beautiful. What a wonderful piece by your daughter – – lovely confidence & picture.

  24. Hi Kate.
    That is definitely a lesson worth repeating. I find that quite often the most important lessons that I learn are from my children.
    Such blessings in those tiny little bodies. ;)

  25. I can only hope to parent my 1 year old little girl well enough that she has that much confidence too. Kudos to you, mama! And thanks for sharing- really made my day. :)

  26. There is nothing quite like a child to pull us out of a “mood”! A puppy does a pretty good job of it too. It sounds as if you have a wise child:)


  27. My girls are grown now, but I have a folder with all their precious little drawings from school or that they made especially for me. I keep it handy, not only as a reminder of when they were little, but looking at their happy stick figures with adorable scribbled names always makes me smile. It is the simple things sometimes that matter most. I would make copies, then have it blown up by the company that specializes in blowing up your childrens art so that it looks like it came from a gallery. I can’t remember the name of the company, but I did just recently read about it on a blog. It will be a wonderful reminder for her to like herself and to be confident as she grows up.

    my best – Diane

  28. I just read this for the first time the other day while sitting in my son’s kindergarten class! It is on the wall of his room, I thought it was great and happy to see it here as another reminder! Janell

  29. I remember my friend buying me a poster of this in college. Fulghum was a Unitarian minister – such wise words.

    I love your daughter’s journal entry; it would have made me a bit misty as well. You definitely need to save a copy of this for her and give it to her when she’s 13 or 14. Sometimes girls at that age forget how special they truly are.

  30. So lovely! Her handwriting is so good. My daughter is 5 and she can’t get out of the all caps writing yet. We’re working on it.

    I love her picture and those flowers are awesome!

  31. Maybe it is the season…recently had a bout of knotted knickers myself. A walk in the park with a camera…really focusing on the beauty…was my ticket to loosen the knots.
    You should be a proud mama that your daughter is happily confident in herself.

  32. Oh how we complicate things that don’t need to be.I’m gonna skip to my lou through my list of to do things today :-) Kids are here to constantly remind us to stop and smell the rose.God help us to STOP and smell the lovely flowers He graces us with each day.

  33. Soo true and sweet, really puts things in perspective. The life lesson learned from a kindergartener!

  34. that was beautiful and wonderful and made me cry and i just wanted to say thank you for that :)

  35. Thanks to you, K (and your darling daughter). For reminding us that life’s happiness is what you make of it. Goodness truly is learned at a young age.

  36. Thanks for this. I was absolutely in a funk yesterday (looking for a new employee is so hard and so disheartening!) and reading this post first thing today was a good mood-raiser.

    I went out for a run with my Boston, Cooper and had a much better day because of it.

  37. You are a treasure, CENTSATIONAL woman! Love those babies of YOURS!

    {I miss you, darlin’ – wish life wasn’t so challenging… ALL THE TIME! – this made me humble and happy to read – THANKS!}

  38. Kindergarten truely was the greatest!

    Are those Italian wedding cookies? Would you mind emailing me your recipe? I had one for the first time this holiday and I cannot get enough.

    [email protected]

  39. So true!! I love that poem, too! Your daughter’s first page is precious… please, oh please, copy it onto some transfer paper and make a pillow or something out of it… frame it for her wall or something… we all need reminders of our 5-year old days! :-)

  40. Oh, such good thoughts…our girls are 7 and 10 now…and this year they will be 8 and 11. It’s hard for me to believe and yet when I read your thoughts on how to enjoy life, I am once again reminded how I should stop and look at the world through my daughters’ eyes now and then. To be reminded of how wonderfully carefree my world once was (and can be now and then today too!). Love all of your photos too.

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