Remember what you Learned in Kindergarten


Many years ago I read the best-selling book, All I Really Need to Know I Learned in Kindergarten. Robert Fulghum’s profound thoughts made me laugh and made me think, and it was an easy, sweet read. It was on my mind the last couple of weeks when my youngest child “graduated” from Senior Kindergarten and Moved Up, in a formal ceremony to grade 1. My daughter’s graduation was juxtaposed with a leadership summit that I attended a few days later with many work colleagues.

My daughter’s Kindergarten graduation ceremony was short, but it was life changing for the children. They showed off a set of skills to their parents that many of us have lost in the thirty (or gulp, forty) years since we sat in those tiny chairs with wide smiles. It took me decades to understand this, but Kindergarten is, I believe, the most foundational year of our lives.

It’s a transitional time, when many of us experience our first genuine authority figures, when we learn to balance play with work and develop long-lasting friendships. For many children, it’s when they learn to read and write, add 1 plus 1, see a map of Canada and maybe learn a second language.

But there are bigger skills my now kindergarten graduate gained this past year, which I hope she will bring with her in every stage of her life, from elementary school to university and throughout her career. They are skills I used last week as I spent time side by side with my colleagues. I was reminded by my 6-year-old daughter and her friends how important these life-long skills are:

Sometimes, just be Quiet and Listen

There are times to speak up and there are times we don’t. If someone kindly asks to be heard, let them. You can be an active participant in a conversation by just listening to the other person. Whether it’s your teacher or your manager, sometimes, be quiet, and listen.

Honesty is always the Best Path

Don’t lie, to anyone, ever. If you made a mistake, own up to it. It’s okay if you can’t tell everyone around you everything, but at least be truthful. If I ask my daughter, who made this mess? She will own up to it. If her class breaks a favourite toy, they let the teacher know. Remember that.

Be generous

My daughter loves to receive gifts, but she and her friends love to give them too. She came home after her graduation with a stack of “gifts” for us that she made throughout the school year. There was art, sculptures, books and other strange items I can’t recognize. She presented each item to us, one by one.

But that’s not all. This past year she reminded me every Friday to give her a few coins for the class Tzedakah box. This is a Hebrew term that comes from the root word, “Tzedek,” or righteous. They learned about the importance of charity and helping those less fortunate than them. The money they collected will be donated to a local charity, as chosen by the children. Generosity goes a long way – towards your family, friends or colleagues, or perfect strangers.

Be a Good Friend

I sent my daughter off to her first day of Kindergarten in September, and she knew a few of the other children. I watched her graduate in June seated beside her best friend and surrounded by many other close friends. When my daughter hesitated when her name was called, her best friend hugged her and urged her to stand up. When she was handed her diploma, every child cheered. And she cheered them too. Whether you are 5, 20, 50 or 80, remember to support your friends, if they need you or not. And give them a hug. They will appreciate it.


Anyone who has met my daughter, in school, at the park, in my house – even on WebEx or Zoom as she photo bombs while I’m in a meeting – they see her smile. You can make a huge impression on someone, or make them feel good, by just smiling. Smiles are truly infectious. If one person in the room starts to smile, they can create a chain reaction. Try it.

Be Assertive

This one is key, and you learn this skill in Kindergarten. Speak up for yourself and be heard. It’s a delicate balance between acquiescent and aggressive, and the best place to learn is Kindergarten. I admit that this is one I continue to work on, and I wish I had practiced more back in Kindergarten. It’s key to getting noticed, to gaining respect and ultimately, career progression. Let people know who you are, what you can do and why you are the best there is. Be bold.

Eat a Morning Snack

My daughter’s class took a 15 minute snack break every day at about 10:00 am. I packed something special for her every day. Sometimes it was a piece of fruit, or cheese, a granola bar, or dare I say it, sometimes a sugary treat. No matter how old you are or what you are doing, we all get the munchies. A vast table of snacks appeared every day at my leadership summit, and our group of 30 professionals jumped on it like a pack of wild animals. Take a break. Have a snack. It’s good for everyone.

Bring out your Creative side

Raise your hand if your parents signed you up for dance, art, piano, drama, singing or some other creative avenue when you were a child. While they knew you probably weren’t going to be a concert level pianist or be the next “Big Thing,” you had the opportunity to gain some artistic skills. The Kindergarten classroom bursts with creativity. The children express themselves with paint, crayons, pastels, and pencils. They sing loudly in music. They role play as Mommies and Daddies, or doctors and nurses. Do they sing off key or draw faces that look more like aliens? Of course they do. But they are proud. Don’t ever forget to be creative. A creative idea is refreshing.

It’s Okay to Cry

During a normal day in Kindergarten, at least one person cries. Your friend took your toy. The teacher didn’t call on you. You piddled in your pants. No reason at all, but you cried anyway. And that’s okay. Just like it’s okay for an adult to cry after a long day. Sometimes the pressures of work, family, friends and the general anxiety of the world around us just become too much. Have a good cry. As I learned from the song in the movie/play, Free to be You and Me – It’s Alright to Cry…. It Might Make you Feel Better.

Like Mr. Fulghum, I could probably write a whole book about this. I’m a proud parent of a Kindergarten graduate, and the foundational skills she learned over the past year astonish me. She learned to be thoughtful, gentle, and caring. She also learned how to share, to be kind and to be independent. Social skills. How to be healthy and active. And so much more. And she reminded me that it’s important to use all those skills every day.

Remember what you learned in Kindergarten. It will bring you success for your whole life.

At the Summit, the View is Beautiful

the view is beautiful

At the summit, the view is beautiful. These words have been in my mind the last few days. They were shared with me last year at work, during a very tough time, when we felt we had to work twice as hard, just to meet the basic needs of our customers, but we knew that the effort was worth it. We often felt that we were climbing a mountain, that just went up and up. Our heads were down, we took step after step, but when we reached the summit and looked at the view, wow, was it ever beautiful.

That’s how I felt this weekend. It has nothing to do with work, my job or my career. In fact, it was quite the opposite: a weekend away. I feel privileged that my husband and I, through our families, have homes we can visit outside the city. We both come from close families, who (usually) love to spend time together. We value the time we spend, often in very close quarters, at our family country homes, secluded from the world.

As I have written a few times, we spend much of our summer at my husband’s family country home in Quebec. The property was bought by his grandparents in the 1940’s, and the house was built in 1949 (with renovations over the years). For the last few decades, the home is only used in the summer months and must be opened in the spring and closed in the fall. I had my first chance this year to be part of the official opening of the home for the season.

Just getting to the house was a challenge.

I have traveled very little over the past two plus years. I had a quick getaway to Quebec City in November 2021, but other than that I have mainly stuck close to home in Toronto or to a family country home. So, when we booked a flight to Ottawa, to get part way by air to our destination in the Laurentian mountains in Quebec, we didn’t see an issue. Boy were we wrong!

I have traveled around the world, on my own and with my family. I have faced a few delays and inconvenient situations, but I never thought my husband and I would have to face the kind of climb that we did on Friday evening.

Turn on the news or just ask a friend about the nightmares of travel lately, and I’m sure you will get an earful. Long lines. Crowded terminals. Well, we didn’t face that at all. We chose Toronto’s downtown, Island Airport, as it was small and typically quieter and calmer.


I should have known we were in for a long night when I got a notification from Air Canada early Friday afternoon that said our flight, “has a revised time due to Aircraft technical issues and is now departing at 19:55” (instead of 19:20).

The next notification delayed departure to 20:15, and the next, received after we had checked in and sat at the gate, was for a 20:50 departure. The delay was annoying but not too terrible, as we enjoyed the quiet and relaxed environment of the downtown airport But I had a bad feeling that the delays would continue and maybe a cancelation.


I was right. Moments later we got a revised departure of 21:45, and then the flight was outright canceled because of “ground handling constraints.” I have no idea what this is or the other reasons we had been given (all different) for the delays throughout the evening.

At this point it was about 8:00 pm, we were still sitting in downtown, and we were frustrated. So, we were offered a flight, same night, from Toronto’s other, larger airport (the giant and wild one), that would depart just after midnight. We took it and grabbed a taxi. Across the city we traveled, and we checked in, dropped our one piece of luggage off, swiftly moved through security and to our gate (note to travelers: Pearson airport is empty and quiet on Friday nights!

We had a few hours to sit and wait for our flight, and at 11:40 pm, moments before we thought we’d be boarding our flight: notification of a delay. I read what looked like a menu of reasons for that delay (including customs and immigration, which made no sense for a plane coming in from Winnipeg), and our revised departure time would be 1:00 am. The plane finally took off at 1:20 am, and we landed in Ottawa just after 2:00 am.

Lost Luggage

But my story doesn’t end here. As I stood, semi-comatose, in the arrivals area and watched the luggage carousel go in circles (it was rather mesmerising), I knew my bag wasn’t there. I will note, my one checked bag had quite the mix of stuff in it, including my daughter’s Barbie “Malibu” house and my old espresso maker, both important items that are needed to keep me sane this summer. My personal items and clothing for the weekend were in my carry-on.

So, back in line we went, and told the kindly Air Canada agent that our large, bright blue duffle bag, full of a random mix of strange items, clearly didn’t make the long trip with us. At this point it was 2:30 am, I was exhausted and a bit punchy and short on patience. We were assured our bag would arrive (we gave him our address in Quebec), and took a taxi to my husband’s uncle’s home in Ottawa, where we stayed for the night.

Have I ever written that I’m not the nicest person when I don’t get enough sleep? Maybe another day. Anyway, after a short night’s sleep, a strong coffee and some errands, we drove over the Ottawa River on Saturday afternoon and arrived at our destination  Throughout the drive, as we traveled along a divided two-lane highway, then past many farms and started the climb into the mountains, I kept saying to myself, at the summit, the view is beautiful. The higher we climbed, past towering evergreen trees and bright blue lakes, my anticipation was building.

As we turned into our driveway, the scene that was etched into my head came alive in front of me. I got out of the car, and I knew that I had arrived at the summit. And I have to say, the view was beautiful! Nine hours to travel to Ottawa. No luggage. Total exhaustion. But my gosh, the view in front of me reminded me that there is extraordinary beauty in this world. Sometimes you have to work twice as hard to get there. The climb may be rough, and you may consider turning around and headed back down the mountain. But my advice: keep climbing. Why? Because at the summit, the view is beautiful.

P.S.: Our giant royal blue duffle bag was delivered here late Saturday night (really Sunday morning) at 1:30 am. And the water container on my expresso maker was cracked and broken. We have filed a complaint to Air Canada for the delays, cancelation, lost luggage and broken contents. I am looking forward to the airline’s response.

The view is beautiful
Oh indeed, the view is beautiful