All I Really Need to Know about Dating I Learned in Kindergarten


"In kindergarten, you can learn how to be a citizen of the world." -Jill Lepore
“In kindergarten, you can learn how to be a citizen of the world.” –Jill Lepore

Today I ventured 22 miles southeast of downtown to suburban Aurora for the pool in my parents’ neighborhood. I had the day off and needed Vitamin D and a tan. Before you judge me for wanting to tan and swim with toddlers, their gossipy moms, too-tan tweens and chatty retirees, know that I have very pale skin.

Pools are hard to come by in Denver even if you are prepared to hand someone a hundred dollar bill for a copy of their pool key (a truly victim-less crime). Everyone has at least a few casual acquaintances with access to a pool in Denver. Come spring when these contacts are asked if they are willing to share their treasure for the summer, they all say “of course, no problem, we will work out details soon!” only to resurface after the pools close looking tan and smug.

Today as I laid poolside and drifted in-and-out of a sun & liquor induced daze, I watched the kiddos at this residential oasis (but not creepily thanks to my reflective sunglasses), and it occurred to me that all I really need to know about dating I learned in kindergarten. Relationship wisdom is not at the top of a happily-ever-after mountain, but there in the sand pile of our younger days. These are the things we learned, the things many of my dates seem to have forgotten–the things I am trying to remember for myself.

Share everything with your partner. Fight fair. Say you’re sorry when you hurt someone’s feelings. Do not take things from someone that are not yours to take. If you make a mess of someone’s heart, clean it up. Have a balanced relationship—learn some and think some and talk some and sing some and dance some and play some and work some and laugh some and love some every day. Take a nap together every afternoon. You already know everything you need to know about how to love someone. “When you go out into the world watch for traffic, hold hands, and always stick together. Remember that goldfish and hamsters and white mice and even the little seed in the Styrofoam cup—they all die.” So do we, and so sometimes does our love and our hope for a future with someone. When the goldfish, the hamster, the white mice, the little seedling, or our love and hope for a future with someone dies there is nothing really to do except put things back where you found them, take a nap, and admit that you do not really know how or why but know that it is this way for everyone.

Even after all of that, perhaps the most important lesson kindergarten taught us about dating is to be selective about who we take crayons from.

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