All I Really Need to Know I Learned in Kindergarten…from Mrs. Scrooge

Tuesday, December 26th, 2017

Published 3 months ago -

“All I really need to know I learned in kindergarten.” So wrote Robert Fulghum, in his best-selling book of the same title. Among the things he learned there were: share everything, play fair, clean up your own mess, say you’re sorry when you hurt somebody, and don’t take things that aren’t yours. Well, I learned very different things in kindergarten.

Mrs. Edwina Scrooge, my kindergarten teacher, had a teaching philosophy that revolved around the principles of the free market system. She’d walk around the classroom and tell us children things like, “Purchase gilt-edge securities and hold onto them.” “Buy low, sell high.” “Price your goods to move.” We had no idea what she was talking about, but those maxims made me a ton of money when I became an adult.

Mrs. Scrooge also taught us more wide-ranging principles about how to behave and many of them are contrary to the ones Fulghum learned in school. I’ve found these principles quite useful in daily living. Perhaps you will, too.

Mrs. Scrooge’s Principles

Share as little as possible: Whether it’s material things or feelings, the less you share with others the more you will have for your own enjoyment. Therefore, unless you’re a communist or a masochist, share as little as possible. Hoard what you can and dole out only what you are forced to give up. Mrs. Scrooge was fond of saying, “He who dies with the most toys wins.” To achieve that objective, keep your playthings to yourself!

Don’t play fair: It’s a truism that nice guys finish last. And the reason they do is because they play fair. Mrs. Scrooge contended that the ends justify the means and if unfairness gets you to your goals, so be it.

Some people find the idea that the ends justify the means a repugnant one. Those people are definitely not Republican Congressional officeholders. To give huge tax breaks to big American corporations they have supported a misogynistic, draft dodging, Russian-loving, racist promoting, prevaricating, mentally unbalanced president. E pluribus screwem.

Get others to clean up your messes: Why clean up your own messes if you can get others to clean them up for you? Are you such a workhorse that you have to do everything yourself? Do you not know how to delegate?

Cleaning up messes is unpleasant work that should be left to professionals. If you’ve made a mess of your marriage, speak to an attorney. If you’ve made a mess of your life, consult a therapist. If you’ve made a mess of the environment, hire a public relations firm to smooth it over.

Some people believe that God helps those who help themselves. Mrs. Scrooge taught us that the Almighty also helps those who can get others to help them. You’d be an idiot not to support overseas dictators who can boost your company’s bottom line.

Never apologize when you hurt someone: As the following conversation shows, apologizing when you offend someone only adds fuel to the fire.

Joe: I’m sorry I hurt your feelings, Mary. I certainly didn’t mean to do that.

Mary: Bull****! You enjoy insulting me. You get a charge out of it.

Joe: That’s not true. I would never intentionally insult you. I love you.

Mary: You love me? Then why are you apologizing? Love means never having to say you’re sorry.

Joe: Well, nevertheless, I am sorry.

Mary: I’m sorry too. I’m sorry that I met you. Have a nice life, you rotten no-good loser!

Mrs. Scrooge told us to never apologize, never explain. She said if you injured someone, treat the matter with benign neglect, and if they injured you, suing was in order. I’ve assiduously followed that advice and I can say that as a practicing negligence attorney it has earned me quite a good living. If you ever have a need to litigate, please don’t hesitate to call me. Suing others is a great way to boost one’s self-esteem.

Take what you can from others: Mrs. Scrooge taught us that life is like a pie with only so many slices, and each time someone consumes a portion there are fewer servings left for everybody else. Consequently, she told us to make sure we got our piece of the pie and while we were at it, to see if we could grab a wedge or two from the people around us. As Mrs. Scrooge sensibly put it, “Those other persons shouldn’t be eating pie. With all the calories and sugar it contains, it’s not good for them.”

I’ll always be grateful to Mrs. Scrooge for all that she taught me, and I think if everyone practiced the principles that I learned in kindergarten, the world would be a far better place. Flush, wash your hands before you eat, and run roughshod over people wherever and whenever you can. That’s sound advice for both kids and the Koch brothers.

Martin H. Levinson is the author of nine books and numerous articles, plays, and poems on various subjects, including The Levinson Report: Cutting Edge Satire for Geniuses Like You. He is a member of the Authors Guild, National Book Critics Circle, and the book review editor for  ETC: A Review of General Semantics. His website can be accessed at

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