Happiness Is… by Richard Hirshen (Chef Richie)

Kindergarten is my favorite place, and time, in the world…ever. It’s a magical fairyland in which I’m a wizard, with wise women to guide me and tiny happy imaginative curious free fun people singing dancing running jumping playing gardening cooking being…present (Buddhists and yogis and I hope EVERYBODY…this is where your path leads)…fairies and gnomes and butterflies and dragons and ballerinas…often actually in costume.
In kindergarten the kinder listen intently to you when you read a book to them like The Carrot Seed, which, because you feel an overwhelming duty and responsibility to their charming innocent souls, you follow with a planting of carrot seeds in the garden and then a week or two later you will get an in-person report like this: “Hey Richie! Come look! The carrots are growing!” And then a couple of months later: “Can we pick ’em?! Can we pick ’em?!” And then you do pick them and wash them and put them on cornbread-spelt dough pizza the kids make and then at the end of the day (at 11:50 when they’re released to their parents) they all eat their own and they’re proud and flavorfully satisfied and their parents are wide-eyed and all is well in the world.
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If you want my advice…go work/volunteer in kindergarten. It will chill you out, adjust your attitude with gratitude, turn your frown upside down, open your eyes, mind and heart and free your soul.
Before I wrote this article I asked my boss what she thought I should write about. She said: “Thinking of a theme of improving the world, focused on our future work at Chapman (our school is moving this summer). Transforming an abandoned building/lot into a garden to table community gathering place (we’re getting a house too, that I’m planning on turning into a replica-ish of Dr. Montessori’s original ‘Casa’ in Rome 100 years ago). Adding our voice to the movement…”.
KINDERGARTEN is the place to do ALL of these things…make the world a better place…galvanizing community through farm to fork action…adding our voice to the movement through action.
And kindergarten is the best place to ‘get’ (understand and implement) the Platinum Rule. Yes, I said Platinum. I didn’t get to use it, to live it, until I became a teacher in my soul. Chefs seem to be too busy for it…maybe this will help.
“Do unto others as THEY would have you do unto THEM”.
And THIS is what kindergarten is all about. Kindergarten is the best practice for the real world that I know.
Everybody should work with kindergarteners. They’re each a perfect mirror. If you want to know who you really are, and can be, that’s where it will happen.
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Ok…I’ve gotta go make a mosaic now.
Ciao chow!
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Written by Richard Hirshen

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