Over at our National Writing Project iAnthology writing space this week, our writing prompt host (Jeanne) asked us to consider Commencement Addresses, and she urged us to write what we would say if we were chosen. Well, I decided to spoof the concept, with an address to the younger set: preschoolers.
I know you are jumping over the seats and crawling under chairs, but if you could just take a moment to listen, I’d appreciate it, because I have important things to say, and you won’t get to the snack table until I am done. Thank you. Parents! That goes for you, too.
Preschoolers, I am honored to be here tonight, dressed up as Big Bird, in order to give you some advice on your journey into kindergarten. No doubt you have had a delightful year here. You’ve had snack times, nap times, read aloud times, play time, and plenty of time to build towers, knock them down, just like David did a few minutes ago — we all saw you, kid — and build them up again. This rebuilding of your ideas is going to be important in the long run. You’re going to fail a lot. It’s OK. You don’t need to cry about it. Instead, see the crumpled blocks as potential for building something even better.
I understand you used a lot of crayons this year. That’s good. Your vision for the future is going to be important. In fact, your parents and teachers and I all expect you to save the world. I know, it’s a lot to ask of a four year old. But we have faith in what you will be able to do. Those crayons make you visionaries, and I urge you to move beyond the colors of the rainbow when you create the world. Don’t be afraid of the names you can’t pronounce. Sometimes, the most unimaginable ideas are the most wonderful. So, grab that Maize and Raw Umber and draw, draw, draw!
Now, I know, you’re thinking: why is Big Bird here, talking to us? One reason is that we wanted to get your undivided attention during this Commencement Address. But, also, can you find a more gentler, kinder soul than Big Bird? I don’t think so, unless you happen to catch re-runs of Mister Rogers on YouTube. Which brings me to another point, preschoolers. Don’t spend all of your time staring at a screen. Oh sure, your parents’ iPads and iPhones and other devices make nifty sounds and have interesting animation. And what your little fingers can do — other than smudging the screen with crumbs from snacktime – is pretty amazing.
But you need to live life first, in the moment. Preschoolers, the one thing I can give you is this: imagination. Invent new worlds. Imagine new places. Create invisible friends and head off on adventures. Talk to yourself. Don’t be afraid of taking chances, because just like that tower we built earlier that David kicked over, there are always ways to improve upon what we’ve done, and sometimes, it takes a setback to move forward.
Now, I know you are all a little antsy, so I will end by saying this. Believe in yourself and find strength in your family. And leave at least one brownie for me, will you? Thanks, and good luck in Kindergarten.
Peace (in the Big Speech to Little People),