As a kindergarten teacher it is my privilege and challenge to work with a staggering array of personality types. While outsiders tend to lump these children together as “sweet, naive, happy, curious” little creatures, those of us who teach them know that many of them are anything and everything but sweet, naive, happy or curious. Some of them are mean, sadly aware of the wicked ways of our society, depressed, and uninterested in anything except what takes place in the virtual world. Each year I wish that I had taken more psychology classes!
One of the more interesting and frankly annoying personalities I encounter in class is what I call the “Me! Me!” child. Most kindergarten children are basically focused on their own interests, needs, and desires. It is natural for them to concentrate on their own little world. But the “Me! Me!” child believes that only his/her way is right. Only his/her desires are important. And he/she is willing to do almost anything for the teacher’s attention. This child always needs to be ahead of their peers, even if it means hurting one of them emotionally or physically. You will find this child teasing, tattling, pushing, shoving, and even lying, cheating, or stealing to get what they want! Yes, those things happen in kindergarten.
What I ponder is whether or not these children change much as they go through life. I’ve taught long enough to know many of my former students as adults and I would say for the most part they still have the same basic personalities they had as six year olds. They have matured and changed due to the circumstances of life, but overall they have the same attitudes- positive or negative- that they had in my class. They have the same approach to problem solving. They have the same inward or outward perspective on life. The "me first" ones still seem to be focused on their own desires, often to the exclusion of the desires of others. Then they wonder why there is so much “drama” in their lives.
Some introspection is necessary to get us through the ups and downs of life. Some self-care is needed for our emotional and physical health. Some self-centeredness is appropriate for our self-protection. But there is a fine line between self-centeredness and selfishness and many people cross it. I seem to encounter more and more people who are all about “Me! Me!’ and I can’t help but wonder if they were like that in kindergarten.