Rob St. Amant

Rob St. Amant
December 31
My roots are in San Francisco and later Baltimore, where I went to high school and college. I stayed on the move, living for a while in Texas, several years in a small town in Germany, and then several more in Massachusetts, working on a Ph.D. in computer science. I'm now a professor at North Carolina State University, in Raleigh. My book, Computing for Ordinary Mortals, will appear this fall from Oxford University Press.


DECEMBER 2, 2010 5:18PM

Stuff I didn't learn in kindergarten

Rate: 28 Flag

It's been said that all you really need to know is what you learned in kindergarten. I've discovered that this isn't true. Six-year-olds don't understand very much about life or even themselves, much less the way things will be in the future.  Here's a taste.

It may be years or even decades after your graduation from kindergarten, but eventually...

1. You won't even wonder whether that small object will fit up your nose.

2. You'll appreciate some bitterness in your drinks in the morning and evening, in your sauces, and in your friends.

3. You'll enjoy bouncing on the bed for a different reason. 

4. Chasing after your playground love interest to plant a kiss will never lose its excitement, but the court hearings and restraining orders will take up more of your time.

5. Someone really will be the boss of you.

6. (for girls) You may still cry if you wear uncomfortable shoes, but you'll be wearing them by choice.

7. (for boys) You may still play soldier, but men and women actually in uniform will think it's creepy rather than cute.

8. Reading books without pictures of farm animals will be fun.

9. You may hear remarks from relatives about how much you've grown, but these will not be complimentary.

10. You'll realize that those people your parents didn't trust because they were different from you really aren't very much different from you.


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Giving an apple to someone doesn't do the trick anymore.
oh I don't know, I still wonder about small objects.

and while I don't have a boss, per se, I do have a mantra that can substitute: "Let's compromise and do it Eve's way" which has seen us last 30 years of marriage this coming year, and still in love.

As always dear friend, I love what appears from your typing, your thoughts.
i lke the chase story
Very funny, Rob. Somehow, #4 following #3 seemed particularly inspired.
I was laughing like crazy at this...great work. R
Hey, thanks for the comments!

John, in some of my classes I will mention that no one ever brings me an apple; a couple of times that has prompted a small gift.

Barry, I'd forgotten about people who are independently wealthy or self-employed or just down and out. But if I may offer a saccharine, AA-inspired sentiment, we probably all recognize some higher power. You have a good one. :-)

Don, that one took a bit of thought. Jail time? Too dark. Restraining order--that's the ticket.

Thanks, AHP! I fiddled with the ordering a bit, I guess to good effect.

Thanks, Sheila!
I meant to add this, but it brought the list to 11: Your favorite works of art will no longer hang on your parents' refrigerator door, but rather in museums showing exhibits of Klee, Miro, and Chagall. (That's just my personal taste.)
I spit up my beer dammit and dropped my joint, this is funny. o/e R******
They don't teach you in kindergarten that "being exceptional" is not rewarded; instead they promote the myth that anyone can be anything they want as long as they work hard enough.

This was really worth the read.

We are the people our parents warned us about. I made a kindergartenonemyself a while back:
More comments! (I guess I'm back.)

Hey, Julie, glad I could lighten your day.

Thanks, older/exasperated. I'm both, too.

Interesting, Rick. When I was in third grade, three kids would leave during certain classes for special instruction. I think two of them were very smart and one had a learning disability. They were exceptional, but in different ways.

I like the idea of learning everything from Mentos commercials, Jim.
Oh, this hits home. I have been tutoring 5 and 6 yr olds for the last month in reading. I would love to video tape every session. As an adult, I still find that boys will always love picture books! : )
he he. :)
Jury's out on #10 with me. I have begun to think my parents were right.
Great Post. You may be right, but I'd really like to try it one more time.

One of my personal benefits to not being 6 is that I no longer cry with hair washing or brushing.
Like it. Good list.
Perfect! But, you're still not the boss of me.
another home run. #4 is really sly.
At least loud farts are still funny.
You'll appreciate some bitterness in your ... in your friends. Amen to that, brother, anyone my age who's a Pollyanna is either deranged or not paying attention.
“They were exceptional, but in different ways.”

That’s interesting, Rob. Do you recall how those students were viewed and treated by their peers?

I knew kids like that, too, and they were usually not well received; they were, I think, mostly just tolerated.

The problem, as I see it, is that exceptional is not really appreciated in American culture. It is paid lip-service, but in the end, it is normal that is sought out. Exceptional has to break through the fear of exceptional and that is a daunting task. All around us are barriers that are culturally and institutionally implemented. I think this is a by-product of the fact that we are culturally forced to compete against each other for our livelihoods, and since by definition we cannot all be exceptional, exceptional is outcast and it is seen as a threat. Of course, when it does manage to break through, it is undeniable and so it is recognized and appreciated, at least by most who recognize it. I’m glad it breaks through from time to time.

But let’s face it, exceptional is outside the box, it is often deviant whether in a good way or not, and people are generally threatened by it in one way or another.
This is great...thanks for the smile!
Thanks for all the additional comments! Sorry about not having returned earlier--I've gotten hammered at work. (That's another thing, I suppose, that would be interpreted differently by a kindergartener. And by a college student, for that matter.)