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The Lessons of the Sandbox This work is considered exceptional by our editorial staff.

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Robert Fulghum, the author of Everything I Needed to Know I Learned in Kindergarten, said all he ever needed to know he learned in school. Kevin Carroll said the secret was in basketball when he wrote The Rules of the Red Rubber Ball. I think the wisdom of the life can be found in the sandbox. Yes, I said the sandbox; that special place where little people come and go and build and dream and learn that nothing in life is solved without a little bit of sand in your eye and a whole lot of imagination. Life is full of sand.
When I was little, I spent a lot of time people watching. I watched my parents, by siblings, my friends and the people at church as I tried diligently to figure out what the rules in life were. Eventually, I ended up in the sandbox with nothing but sand and my thoughts. As a few friends wandered in, I listened and watched. I saw how important cooperation was to their building of their dream castles and how happy they were as they worked to together and talked and laughed. It made me smile and I liked the feeling of that smile in my belly.
A funny thing about the sandbox is sometimes it is hot and sometimes it feels cold. Either way my toes like it. As I scooped the sand with my hand and watched it pour out through my tiny fingers, I realized that with each grain of sand, no matter how small, was enormous creative potential. I set my mind to building a castle. I persevered, though it was difficult. There were bullies who would come to the sandbox and tear down my castle. There were others on the playground that would laugh and tell me I was not capable. But I was determined and one of the great things about the sandbox is that new people come to play! As new friends joined, I learned yet another valuable lesson of life. It takes the kindness of others, whether in words or actions, to make dreams come true.
Days would pass when the rains would come and no one was allowed to go out to the playground. The sandbox would just sit there empty and alone. Even then I would watch it as the groundskeeper would come and keep it clean and covered. There was a sense of respect in the way he covered it, almost as if he knew the secret of the sandbox held the laws of life. He smiled. When the rays of sun returned and we could go back out to the sandbox, I realized sometimes life is not always fair. Matter-of-fact it is rarely “fair”. Sometimes, it rains and no one can play. Sometimes, you have to rotate your place and sometimes when you are last, you do not get to even play at all. Since life is not fair, people need to be really aware of the importance of fairness and equity. The sandbox taught me fairness is colorblind (especially since you can’t see with sand in your eyes).
As I grew older and my days in the sandbox were fewer and farther between, I felt a little lost until I realized the world is just like the sandbox with its opportunities to play, share, be fair, be kind, persevere and be courageous. I recognized that dreams do not happen without a few grains of sand in your eyes. Perseverance and kindness are essential to success and nothing feels as satisfying as the smile you can feel all the way to your belly. People need sand. It can soften the rough spots, bring people together and build some of the world’s most amazing dreams. So no matter whether or not, for you, it was kindergarten, the red rubber ball of the playground, or the sandbox--like it was for me, the rules are there for you to make your own; to mold who you are; to push you forward toward your dreams. Life needs sand.





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Naples-pops said...
Nov. 11, 2009 at 11:45 am
Maddy - I am so very proud of you :)
 
InkSpot said...
Nov. 11, 2009 at 11:13 am
I am so fortunate to have worked with Maddy for several years now. All who know her would agree that she is wise beyond her years. She worked with this piece for quite awhile until each section resonated with her and she was satisfied. She had written this as part of an assignment for a contest in our community. It did not win or even make it through the process. That is not to say it wasn't the best piece submitted--simply that it was not as formulaic as most submissions. Maddy, I applaud ... (more »)
 
City Girl, Denver said...
Nov. 11, 2009 at 2:36 am
I found myself reading "The Lessons of the Sandbox" several times, as I was in disbelief that this article was written through a 14 year olds thoughts, eyes and ears, and that she was not only intutitive with herself, but with others around her.
I have had the Honor of meeting this truly amazing Author. As I sit here writing my comments on her article, I still find myself picking it up and reading it, over and over. As it is a life lesson, not only to children but to adults as we... (more »)
 
Denver Girl said...
Nov. 10, 2009 at 11:51 pm
I have read this article several times, as I am fortunate to have met the Author of this article. When I read "The Lessons of the Sandbox" my initial thoughts were, how is it possible for a young girl to have such discernment on life, and the ability to be so intuititve with not only herself but others around her. So the lessons that she/Madison learned are the lesssons everyone should learn, whether it be in a sandbox, or a rubber ball, or where ever your safe haven maybe, her mess... (more »)
 
Naples-pops said...
Oct. 30, 2009 at 12:23 pm
I am astounded by this article and the fact that a 14 year old as authored it, what maturity and talent. This article brings me back to my childhood. Most importantly I am so very proud of my daughter, the author.
 
Naples Girl said...
Oct. 13, 2009 at 2:31 pm
Hi...this piece was submitted by my teacher on my behalf and Teen Ink has yet to fix it and give the right person credit. I am the author. I hope you enjoy my piece.
 
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