Life Teachings

Recently overheard at a local rumshop:

SALTPRUNES: Boy, what yuh wanted to be when yuh was small?
BOYSIE: Taller.
SALTPRUNES: I mean wanted yuh wanted to be when yuh got big?
BOYSIE: Still taller.
SALTPRUNES: You weren’t a smart chile, nuh?

If we really believe (sing it with me) “that children are our future, teach them well and let them lead the way,” then maybe real life lessons need to come sooner rather than later.

I mean it really is true when they say hindsight is 20/20. You don’t think about much when you’re a kid living life and having fun. Even when you get older and enter high school, grown ups tell you to enjoy those carefree days.

It’s only when you go off to college or university that the “growing up” is supposed to begin. That’s when your parents expect you to start becoming an adult and to learn the tools that will prepare you for “the real world.”

Post-secondary education (just saying that even makes me feel smarter. Try it…sit up, hold your head up and say, “Post secondary education.” See? Told you.) is supposed to be the time in life where you pick a direction to continue down for the rest of your life.

And just like most things taught in “post secondary,” it sounds good…in theory. But by then it might be too late. Let’s face it. College life has as many pitfalls as the ghetto does – partying every night, cheap booze, drugs, teenage pregnancies. It makes graduating with a degree virtually impossible.

Something that needs to be taught in kindergarten along with how to use the potty is that life ain’t no joke. Get the kids wired for reality, not fairy tales. Teach them that not everyone lives happily ever after. When you look back didn’t it all seem so easy when you were a kid? I remember growing up believing I could be whatever I wanted.

My big head friends and I would be out playing and sometimes for no reason express loudly what we were going to be when we grew up. We would just yell out jobs like policeman, doctor, race car driver. Even our not-so-bright friend wanted to be a fire truck. None of those things happened to any of us (the fire truck thing for obvious reasons), but we all believed we could, because no one taught us to think realistically.

Once you get older it’s incredible to see how what you wanted to be and what you end up being, are rarely the same thing. The real world somehow forces you into a job like those people in Japanese subway stations that are paid to push you into the trains. You just get shoved into a career.

I’m not talking about drastically changing the nursery school curriculum. We keep the stories and the games; we just change the lessons slightly to be more real. Start small, with characters in books like the big bad wolf in “Little Red Riding Hood,” who now becomes the “tax man.” When the kids ask what happened to the wolf? BAM!!! They learn two new things right there: (1) the reality of taxes and (2) in order for your job not to be outsourced like the big bad wolf… make your self invaluable to the company.

We need to help them be more aware and not shelter them as much. You ever see kids play games like banker or doctor? It’s always a pleasant experience for the kids playing:

Kid 1: “Hi, I’d like to take out a loan please.”
Kid 2: “Sure. How much money would you like to borrow?”
Kid 1: “A million dollars please.”
Kid 2: “Here you go. Have a nice day.”

And they continue to play like that’s real life. Just once I’d love to see kids learn how the real world works, not to be mean, but just so they get a taste of the future. I know I don’t have all the answers, but we need to figure out a gentle and subtle way to let kids know early on that life isn’t as great as Disney’s Miley Cyrus and Selena Gomez make it out to be.

Growing up, if we knew right from the start that sometimes in life you need to do what you need to do in order to keep from being homeless, more people might live happily ever after.

(Sing it with me) If I fail, if I succeed, at least I’ll live as I believe, no matter what they take from me, they can’t take away my…dignity.

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