Long ago, it was common for kids to start school early and get skipped up grades.
Nowadays, it’s considered better for kids to start school later, so they have more time to mature.
But back then, kids were on the fast track to grow up.
Which is why I found myself at age four staring at the doors marked Boys or Girls, trying to figure out what the beads meant.
It was kindergarten, it wasn’t brain surgery: you put the beads around you neck, you go into the bathroom that corresponded to your gender (in those days, there was no question), you do your business and come out.
The doors didn’t lock, because we were in kindergarten. The beads were the sign: occupied or vacant.
It all sounds kind of funny and antiquated.
But for me, the worry of not being able to remember how the beads worked, or what if I flushed them down the toilet, or what if someone forgot about the beads and walked in on me… well, it was too much for my four-year-old self to handle.
So all that year I didn’t go to the bathroom at school.
Instead, I walked home at lunchtime and went there.
Did I? Did I really do that?
Yes, and if you were raised in that era, you did too. You walked home by yourself, and you rode on bikes with no helmets and in station wagons with no seat belts and you played outside with no supervision from morning till dinner.
That’s what we all did.
We grew up fast, because that’s how things were then.
But nowadays… it can be good to take your time. Waiting in patience and compassion for yourself, until you’re really to do something, can be a very kind way to live.
If there is something you’re facing and you’re not quite ready, you don’t have to grit your teeth and force yourself. You can wait, if you want.
Sometimes this is a great choice.
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