#495 When it suddenly just clicks

I was bad at Kindergarten.

Yes, growing up a small, frightened, sheltered kid meant my daily drip to Grade 0 was the same as blasting me to the moon for six hours a day. I was helpless and alone, down on my own, in a cold and distant unknown.

Honestly, I was so shy I didn’t talk to anyone, anytime, ever. I would stare at my shoes while coloring, face the wall at nap time, and hide under evergreens at recess. Yes, I was the Kindergarten Ghost, a skinny, snot-nosed phantom who haunted the classroom by sitting in the corner all day playing with his zipper. Really, the only time I was less than ten feet from the other kids was when we sat in a circle around a trash can centerpiece every day at lunchtime.

My mom packed me a loaded paper bag for just the occasion each day.

Yes, I’d pull out a bologna sandwich and still have a juice box, granola bar, and cheese string left over. Since I was about three feet tall and clocked in around forty pounds, I usually just ate half the sandwich and quietly threw everything else into the centerpiece.

Now, my massively wasteful ways continued until one day in mid-October when my teacher Mrs. Armstrong mindlessly peeked into the trash can while walking by.

“Wait a minute,” she called out, reaching in to pick up my perfectly wrapped up food. “Who threw this out?”

I suppose my wide eyes, swinging legs, and chin-to-chest pose gave me away because she walked right over to me.

“Neil, did you throw this out?”

I nodded without looking up thinking I was about to get smacked, sent to the principal’s office, or expelled completely for my cheese-tossing ways. But she lowered herself to my level and said “Neil, do you see Matthew over there?”

I looked up at a dirty-faced kid picking his nose with a pencil on the other side of the circle.

“Well, Matthew doesn’t have enough food for his lunch. He’s still hungry. Would it be okay to give Matthew the granola bar you don’t want?”

I nodded again and this time Mrs. Armstrong beamed and spoke loudly for everyone.

“Neil, this is called sharing. Giving things to other people is sharing with them. Thank you for sharing your lunch with Matthew.”

She passed the granola and cheese to Matthew who gobbled it down quickly while I sat tall in the golden praise from my teacher. I felt great and could hear my inner headgears spinning in all directions. Sparks flew inside my five year old brain as I slowly made a bit more sense of the weird and wild world around us …

Yes, when it suddenly just clicks it suddenly feels


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“Our brother Freddo introduced our family to your blog right at the beginning and we’re all big fans. We were thrilled when we heard about your Webby and book deal and couldn’t wait for The Book of Awesome.

Our family is spread far and wide – across 3 countries and 3 time zones – so we don’t see each other as often as we’d like. But we email frequently and often discuss the latest awesome thing in our online discussions, debating our favorites (Annick’s is #760 and Karine’s is #817).  We finally got together for a long overdue sisters’ weekend and both happened to bring our awesome books. Much laughter, giggling and silliness ensued – especially after we chose our new favorite – Strategic Trick-or-Treating. Thanks for all the awesomeness.” – Annick and Karine
Photos from: here, here, and here

78 thoughts on “#495 When it suddenly just clicks

  1. Oh my gosh, I LOVE this one. Kindergarteners hold a very special place in my heart and I love hearing stories like this. This is very precious.

    I was like that in grade K, too. Ours was just 1/2 day kindergarten, so I only had to worry about it for the afternoon portion of my day. I never had a totally sweet moment like that, but that’s ok.

    Also, I LOOOOOOOOVE the story! So very awesome. :D

    1. Oh yeah! And happy, happy birthday to Freddo one day early! Sending lots of love and Fiber Twigs (I mean, fiber-filled Froot Loops) your way. ;D

      1. Thanks Laura! As you can imagine, when you get to my age, you pretty much spend your birthday trying to stay regular and avoid throwing your back-out, so it’s certainly going to be a wild party over in the Freddo-household. ;)

        1. Yes, I figured as much. :D

          Please don’t forget to use your walker, wear your orthopedic shoes, secure your dentures, and pack a few extra Depends for the wild party. It’s all about safety and preparedness.

          But seriously, you’re hardly one foot in the grave or anything. Even though I’m only 24, many of my good friends are “your age” and they’re the coolest and most fun people I know. So party hard, you spring chicken, you!

        2. I’m sorry I wasn’t here to wish you a happy birthday…. so HAPPY BELATED BIRTHDAY FREDDO!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    2. Kindergarteners are some of the wisest people on earth. They are so carefree, so honest. We can learn a lot from those littlin’s.

      Kindergarteners don’t do what they think is “cool.” They don’t try to make themselves popular. They do what makes them happy and, at the same time, makes other people happy.

      It’s times like these I feel like I should go back to being a camp counselor.

        1. I worked with kids mostly around the age of 9-10 at camp and I had a few good conversations with some of them.

          Some of the stuff they said…oh man. It was so honestly hysterical.

          1. This is SO true! Just wait until you have your own kids, then it’s non-stop hilarity!

  2. So sweet, Neil. It reminds me of all my leg-swinging awkward moments as a kid, but then you turned it around to remind me of those golden moments when I realized I wasn’t alone! Truly awesome.

    Sadly, the memory I have ingrained in my psyche from kindergarten is staring at a picture I coloured — and realizing I couldn’t draw to save my life! Oh well, other talents showed up to save my self-esteem…

    1. Ha ha, Barbara, we all have our “failed crafts” moments. I am still haunted by the time we made paper snowflakes in Gr. 2. When you were done cutting, if you did it right, you carefully unfolded the paper to reveal your own beautiful snowflake. Then you could go stand at the front of the class. Well, I was the only kid who cut on the wrong fold. My “snowflake” crumbled to pieces. By the end of things, everyone was standing across the front of the class except for me! I’ll never forget the shame! Luckily, Mrs. Cook came and put her arm around me, and gave me a little encouragement. I’ll never forget that gesture, either.

      1. I used to be a failure at snowflake making, too. I’d end up cutting too much from the main folded side, thus compromising the entire structural integrity of the snowflake. Sad.

        Very sweet of your teacher, though :) Moments like that are things that they may never think twice about, but you’ll never forget.

  3. Aw, this story is so awesomely sweet and touching! Don’t you just want to scoop up the 5-year-old Neil and hug him??

    P.S. Freddo’s sisters are adorable!

    1. Well, there is the snot issue…

      Note: that refers to the 5-year-old Neil and not Freddo’s sisters.

      1. Having grown up with them all my life, I can assure you – the “snot issue” didn’t JUST apply to 5-year old Neil.

    2. Yes I do! Because the kids like his self-description are the ones to which I find myself getting attached most easily. Love them. :) Kindergarteners are my favorite.

    3. Yay! It’s great to see my sisters in print (print? Is that the right word? Great to see them in all of their pixelated glory?) It’s like I can bask in their new found fame on the interwebs.

      And 5-year old Neil does sound pretty cute. Plus, the “inner headgears” he describes spinning and whirring are certainly cuter than the outer headgear that he sported through most of high school.. BOOYAH!


  4. i LOVE when it clicks it was awsome in math when i didn’t get something and CLICK i do

    stay awesome

    1. yeah it usually happens in math to me too :) and Neil, I <3 love <3 that story. It's so real and just a beautiful moment, for things to click with you and for Matthew to get some food. Beautiful…..oh and awesome!!

  5. My mom used to over-pack me ridiculous lunches often with home-made goodies. (picture a lunch bag so full that it is a perfect rectangular prism – no top fold-over). I was VERY popular at the lunch table. (Still didn’t make up for how terrible I was on the sports field, though!)

  6. My kindergarten was awesome, but it was my preschool that I remember and love the most. One of our teachers was Muslim and half the kids were spanish so I picked up on one or two phrases. I think that it taught me to be more accepting of others, and to really just forget about anything other than who they are.

    Sorry, that got to be a little more cheesy than I meant for it to be.

  7. the story is amazing act of kindness.actually the part where you still remember your kindergarten experience is still quite amazing I presumed :-)

  8. I need to remember this one, for it is the reason I’m going back to school to be a teacher! Thank you!

  9. I just love kindergarteners! the kindergarten teachers are just awesome too. They’re really encouraging, and this story really showed that. Super heartwarming! It brought back memories.

  10. I also found out about your blog from a WordPress announcement. Apparently, you are pretty awesome! Congrats on that!! Oh, and I did read your post and it was very well written…you deserve being recognized for your awesomeness…

  11. I guess I’m a bit behind the times because I just found this blog. It is AWESOME! What great writing and a fantastic life perspective. Congrats on your book deal and your success at blogging. You are a hero I will try to emulate. I write about life, at http://www.andreamerriman.com, because life is also awesome. Thanks so much for the positive contribution to the world and my sphere of existence. I’ll be checking back and reading more for sure! Again, best wishes in continued and awesome success!

  12. awww. that was the cutest (and sweetest). big congrats to you on the book. so glad i got word of this blog today! i obviously have a lot of catching up to do ;)

  13. Wow!
    I just got your book this w/e in Chapters! – I had no idea you had a blog!

    It is my DREAM to be a writer…well, full-time, professionally…I hate my job and “corporate”…

    I know you get this alot…and it’s so “generic”, but ANY advice, comments, critique would be so appreciated about HOW to get a book deal, who to contact, attract…I’m trying, but it’s like SLIM…

  14. I just saw your blog very uplifting can’t wait to read the book. It sounds like it came at a time in your life when you were needing to see some awesome things in the world and people are responding to that thank you. We all need to appreciate those small awesome things more I think. Mike

  15. Hi Neil,

    I discovered your blog through the wordpress announcement:)

    Your posts are beautiful. I was wondering if there was an email subscription link somewhere.


    (PS: Added a post about your book at my blog this morning – All the best:)

  16. Just found out about your blog via WordPress’ kudos for your book. Congratulations! I love your blog and posts and wish you mega success.
    Positivity is contagious keep it up! :-)

  17. honestly, what that teacher probably did was embarrass the other child by pointing out that he was poor/hungry in front of all of the other children. i find this story disappointing, not inspiring.

    1. I can see it from your point of view, but few will. The way I CHOOSE to see it is this, “See a need, fill a need.” If you see someone who needs help, help them. If you need help, ask. To me, these were the valuable lessons taught to some very impressionable children who are now (possibly) better people because of it. :)

  18. I had a big CLICK moment in 2nd grade. We were sitting around reading aloud, and each of us was to read a paragraph then pass the book to the next person. I had no idea what a paragraph was, but as student after student got the withering eye from the teacher for getting it wrong, I noticed a pattern – each person should have read two sentences, then passed the book. A paragraph must be two sentences! It is a pair-a-graph. So when it came to my turn, I read my two sentences, and passed to book to the boy to my right. The teacher beamed and said “Finally, someone who knows what a paragraph is”. It was a proud moment for me, and remained so even after I found out that a paragraph has that little indented thing going for it, not two sentences.

    Still, at the time is was indeed very, very AWESOME!

  19. My son is going into kindergarten next year and is an incredibly social child. He makes friends with EVERYONE. This story makes my heart happy and gives me hope that my son will also make friends with the shy, awkward, snot-nosed kid in the corner, too.

    I have “click” moments almost every day! :) I love “click” moments. Awesome!

  20. This should definitely not be on the list yet (ie. be closer to number 1) This is the best. Especially when you are stressing over Everest-sized mountains of homework in year 9 and that one moment makes things the teensiest bit easier for you. Thanks Neil, I read this at just the right time.

    1. lol.. Yup – those are my sisters.. the one on the right is the only person in the world who might like Nutella more than my wife.. :)

      Thanks for the cute comment, Shelbs! Is it alright if I call you Shelbs? :)

  21. Many thanks for the awesome facts covered throughout your website, what follows is a little quiz for your webpage readers. Who actually cited the following quote? . . . .A positive attitude may not solve all your problems, but it will annoy enough people to make it worth the effort.

    1. Get off here ‘Travail’. You’ve done nothing but post this same stuff on at least 5 awesome things… No go bother other people with your spam.

  22. You have observed very interesting points! ps nice site. “When you look at yourself from a universal standpoint, something inside always reminds or informs you that there are bigger and better things to worry about.” by Albert Einstein..

  23. Yes, adorably sweet and touching too.
    And I do believe Freddo has just celebrated another birthday!
    Having a few more months experience in this blog world now, I see why I was not getting follow-up’s… so tick box below if/when you do folks!
    Gotta’ love it when it FINALLY CLICKS!

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  25. Very good blog! Do you have any suggestions for aspiring writers? I’m hoping to start my own website soon but I’m a little lost on everything. Would you suggest starting with a free platform like WordPress or go for a paid option? There are so many options out there that I’m completely overwhelmed .. Any ideas? Cheers!

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