All I really need to know I learned in kindergarten…at 53

Adults sitting at table doing arts and crafts

Adults are trying harder than ever to stay young. Adult colouring books are all the rage, for example. Have you bought yours yet? Grown ups can go to summer camp now if they missed, or still miss, that childhood experience. Even food is changing to appeal to adults’ palates: chai tea ice cream or sourdough pancakes anyone?

But the latest adult-as-child experience I happened upon is kindergarten for grownups. Forget 50 being the new 40, maybe 50 is the new 5. That’s right, adults playing dress up, hanging out at the sand table, or prettying up coloured construction paper at the crafts table. I guess I’m not too late to create a macaroni masterpiece on paper after all. The program was created for adults who were in adverse situations (domestic violence? poverty?) as children and did not have a chance to enjoy fully their  kindergarten experience. This program is giving adults the chance to make up for lost play time.

Each class, the adults start by writing their stresses down on a piece of paper and then destroying that piece of paper. Therapists have been known to use a similar approach in helping people work through trauma. Write down your traumatic story or what you wish you could have told that person you’re harbouring ill feelings toward and we’ll destroy what you’ve written together. Heck, leave what you’ve written with me and you’ll be free of it. I, Annie the Psychologist, have even used the method occasionally with children with some success, but I know of others who use it with adults.

There’s only one problem I can see with the approach used by the adults in kindergarten class: they use a shredder to destroy the page they’ve written their stresses on. Beware the evil malfunctioning shredder! There must be a better way.

As a psychologist, shredding is a critical part of my history. The shredder is but one method in my arsenal of protecting my clients’ confidentiality. Mistake in a report? Shred it to bits–hail the cross cutter–and print a revised version. You young’uns may not catch my shredding drift since paper is so passé these days. Ah, those word-processing files sure save the trees, and the shredders.

As a person who shreds by necessity, I have no positive memories of my long chain of home-office shredding machines. Each and every one has jammed or broken and eventually ended up in the landfill after a premature death. Each replacement I bought was supposed to be better than the last, but they all failed miserably. In fact, I believe if I went down to my office right now, I’d find the last defunct one collecting dust since I haven’t had the heart to throw out.

So go to kindergarten if you want to, grown ups. Enjoy the dress-up corner and fighting over sharing the best toys with your adult friends. But record your stresses in a typical kindergartener’s large print and shred your page by hand. Don’t worry, your buddies aren’t going to waste their time digging through the garbage to piece together what you’ve written. They want a story-time seat on the carpet by the teacher as much as you do. Otherwise they might need their hearing aids.

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