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I’m Not Smarter Than a 5th Grader

I’m Not Smarter Than a 5th Grader

| Sande Caplin |

Sometimes the inspiration that you need for an article, a project, or life quietly lands in your lap coming from unexpected places.  That is what happened to me as I was thinking about the spin I was going to put on my New Year’s resolutions article and how this year, I plan on jumping in full bore, to ramp up and improve several areas of my own life.  Oh, yes, like many of you, I have my running shoes ready, clean-food shopping list prepared, and paint colors chosen for the walls that I shall color.  I even plan on enacting a vision board (I resolved to make one of those years ago and this will be the year), so I can remind myself daily of my goals with a visual of my new life.

So it was in looking for something in my son’s backpack that I came across a list that caused me to pause and soak in the inspiration I needed, not only for my article, but also for my own personal resolutions list that’s been growing in my head.  The title of his paper was “How to be Cool in 24 Hours,” and I studied it with great interest because, as a 5th grader, this is obviously serious business for him.  As I read the list, I realized everything I needed to do in the New Year was laid out before me.  And it occurred to me that getting back to the basics of being a good person, with a happy demeanor and willingness to help, would give me the attitude to succeed in other areas like exercise and healthy eating.  

Sometimes it truly is “out of the mouth of babes” that the best advice flows.  So, I would like to thank my son and his friend for providing an inspirational and accurate road map for a happy life for all of us in 2016.

1.    Don’t be annoying.  I think we can all agree with this one.
2.    Don’t flip your hair.  Right?  It’s never good to be vain in public, plus you might mess up your style.
3.    Don’t tell Oliver’s jokes.  Now, I’m not exactly sure who Oliver is, but we all know someone with cringe-inducing humor, whose jokes we probably should not retell.  
4.    Don’t be a jerk.  Gosh, he could’ve started and ended his list with this one.
5.    Don’t tell lies.  Big one here.  Can we go back to the days when our word meant everything?  When a handshake sealed a deal with integrity and respect?
6.    Be nice.  Always.  Even when people may not deserve it.  Things are rarely as they seem and it costs you nothing to give a smile or share a kind word.
7.    Help out.  Good reminder for all to join in, volunteer, participate.  There are so many organizations that exist only with the donations and volunteerism of people just like you and me.
8.    Don’t just say “you’re welcome,” say “no problem.”  Mmm hmm, nothing wrong with going the extra mile in everything you do.
9.    Get good grades.  Yes, in school and in life.  If your friends and loved ones were to grade your present behavior, would you get an “A”?  Do you need to demonstrate your love or support in more meaningful ways?  If you still don’t understand, please refer back to #4.
10.    Don’t say curse words.  Well, sometimes you just have to.
11.    Be good at PE, but not too good.  I agree.  Exercise, but not to the point of obsession.  Everything in moderation.
12.    Pay attention in class.  Yes, and in life.  Be present while your kids share their stories and your spouse is trying to have a moment with you.  There will be time later for work, hobbies, or fun.  If you don’t listen to your kids, somebody else will.  And, once in a while…Get. Off. Your. Phone.
13.    Be good at everything.  This one’s a little lofty, but it is coming from optimistic 10-year-olds.  But, certainly, give it your all in every situation.  Mediocrity has become the norm.  And, might I add, if you’re good at something, let it shine!  It’s okay to win first place, and no, not everybody needs a trophy.
14.    Stay on the sidewalks/trails.  Hmm.  He must take after his cautious mother.  I guess it’s a good idea to take a fork in the road once in a while.  He’ll learn that one.
15.    Have neat handwriting.  Yes, and teach your children to write in cursive, which should not be considered a lost art.  If you haven’t sent a handwritten note lately, you might consider what a pleasure it is for the intended receiver when they read your message.
16.    Be courteous.  This is a big one.  “Thank you,” “please,” “you’re welcome,” and other pleasantries, need to make their way back into our everyday conversation and interactions.  
17.    Be a good speller/reader.  They’re right.  It’s all there on Facebook for the world to see.  Their list impresses me.
18.    Have a clear voice. Taken literally, this is important for young boys whose voices resemble a little girl or a large man, it’s unclear.  But, in life, make your voice known in a concise manner that informs people what you mean without degrading their differing opinions.  

It is in that vein that we wish you the happiest, most peaceful New Year ever!  Don’t forget to look to the innocence and wisdom of the young to guide your decisions in the upcoming months, and may inspiration find and delight you in all of your New Year’s endeavors.  

New Year's Resolutions
Photos:  Day 2/365 New Year’s Resolutions courtesy of Jeff Golden on Flickr-commercial use allowed

New Years Resolution courtesy of Sam JR on Flickr-commercial use allowed

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