Lessons from kindergarten
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Lessons from kindergarten

The other day on the radio, a woman with a very nice voice asked her listeners, “Is your child ready for kindergarten?” Apparently this woman and her friends run some sort of company that gets your toddlers ready for the cutthroat world of finger painting and nap time. Can you imagine — nap time? It is actually in the curriculum.

I still remember the cots that we used to nap on in Yavneh Academy. I wonder if they still have those, or if with the price of tuition, each 5-year-old gets his or her own pillow top tempur-pedic mattress. Anything is possible. Someone will have to fill me in on the advancements in nap time.

As we grow up, we learn about what to expect. Don’t run with scissors, because you could fall and stab yourself. Color within the lines, because your picture will look better. Red means stop, green means go, and yellow means slow down. We learn rules on how to behave. Share with others. Be nice to people. Don’t be a bully. When we turn 16, we start learning how to drive. We learn how to use Waze so we don’t get lost when we drive. We are always learning what to do as we progress in age. When you graduate high school, when you graduate college, when you finish graduate school. We learn about the next step. But eventually, that next step is real life. Getting married, having kids, staying married, raising those kids — but then there are so many obstacles along the way. You only learn about these landmines when you actually step on them — and then you are thrown into a world that you know nothing about. OK, folks, we are going to try to keep this light. Don’t worry.

A very close friend of mine, who I met 25 years ago when I worked at a mental health center — yes, I worked there; no, I was not a patient there, but thanks for thinking that — has had both of her hips replaced. This was a landmine, because you don’t know what is going on with your hips until you get the excruciating pain and you can no longer walk. So she got new hips. Fantastic.

Unfortunately, she encountered another landmine. One of her hips kept popping out of place. This is not as pleasant as it sounds. Remember your Barbie dolls? You could pull the legs out of their sockets. (Please don’t tell me that I was the only kid who did this to her dolls. I just loved the noise that they made when you pulled them out, and then the satisfying noise they made when you put them back in…) That is basically what happened to her right hip.

After much physical therapy, and another hip dislocation at the baggage claim in a California airport, it was time to call in the big guns. How hard could it be to find someone to fix a hip?

Doctor #1 was in all of the papers. His picture was everywhere and his very expensive personalized sports car was in the parking lot of his office. “Why does my hip keep popping out?” my friend fearfully asked. He gave a very convincing answer, but the connection just wasn’t there, so we went to doctor #2. “Why does my hip keep popping out?” Doctor #2 does not have his picture everywhere, and he does not have a fancy sports car, but he speaks very fast, uses big words, and promises my friend that he will help her lickety split. Nope, it was not lickety split, so to doctor #3 we went. “Why does my hip keep popping out?” The planets were aligned, the landmines were found and diffused, and doctor #3 won the prize and did the surgery.

Now before the surgery, my friend was given many different possible outcomes. All of them were prefaced by “We won’t know for sure until we open you up,” but all of those outcomes involved a reasonable recovery time. This time being anywhere from two days (best case scenario) to two weeks (worst case scenario). But wouldn’t you know it, another landmine — when doctor #3 opened her up, there were a bevy of torn muscles that needed to be repaired. And recovery time? Six weeks of no pressure on her right leg. Six weeks.

It got me thinking back to kindergarten, when you are taught to be patient and wait your turn. Be patient and you will get a cookie. Be patient and your hip will heal.

And let’s hope for no more landmines.

Banji Ganchrow of Teaneck thinks they should incorporate nap time into senior year of high school. At least it would keep the seniors IN high school….

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