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Outstanding in his field

May 26, 2010

Yoga class this morning was essentially 90 minutes of various kinds of pushups. Cobra pushups. Plank pushups (more or less the classic pushup, except in the down position, you are completely on the ground). Body drops, which involves sitting in lotus position (the classic Buddha meditation pretzel pose), making your hands into fists, and straightening your arms, knuckles on the floor, to lift your body up and release it. There were also a couple of poses that involved raising your arms up and down over and over again. In short, anything more strenuous than typing is pretty much beyond me at the moment. I very nearly failed at trying to pour myself a cup of tea after class. I have a feeling waking up tomorrow is not going to be too much fun. Guess who won’t be beating eggs for omelets?

It’s still weirdly hot and humid here. AJ’s school’s Field Day, which got rained out last week, is rescheduled for today, and despite dire predictions for the weather, it’s perfectly sunny. The rumor is that this is the last field day. Next year, the gym teachers will be gone. Unless parent volunteers take over the organization — and I have a feeling they might — then it’s another school tradition that will fall by the wayside.

I remember my own elementary school Field Days without much pleasure. I was never fond of gym class. It’s not that I hated exercise, but that our gym teacher terrified me. Mr. K had a sadistic streak. There was that one time where we all had to climb a knotted rope up to the ceiling of the gym. One kid was afraid of heights and had to be coaxed up the rope. He got to the top and then made the mistake of looking down and froze. When the kid wouldn’t come down, Mr. K just left him there. He sent us all back to class and turned out the gym lights. We were horrified. The kid didn’t come back to class that afternoon. In retrospect, I’d like to think he was just trying to remove the gaper’s block. But why turn off the lights? At the time it was all totally terrifying.

And then there was the Darwinian game he used to make us play called “Hunters and Animals.” I’m sure I’ve written about this before. He’d always pick the 4-5 biggest and best athletes in the class and give them all the playground balls in the center of the room. Then the rest of us had to sprint around the outside of the gym — more of a stampede, really — while the annointed hunters sent the balls hurtling towards us like cannonballs. If you got hit, you were shot dead and therefore out. It The trick was to not get hit too soon, before the hunters, arms had tired. Those first few hurt the most. You also didn’t want to be one of the last ones standing, because then they got really mad and chased you. It was best to go down in the middle of the game.

Field days was just an all day gym class — pretty much my idea of a nightmare. It just compounded my fear of the gym teacher and also my fear of doing something stupid in front of people who would taunt me about it for weeks afterwards. But my recollection of field days was that it was primarily track and field events — lots of running and jumping — which were things I was actually relatively good at. But when they were over, I was always relieved.

AJ lives for Field Day, though. But school’s field day is much less like a track meet and more like a birthday party. They do things like play under a giant parachute and have egg and spoon races. They order in a pizza picnic outside for lunch. No wonder AJ has been beyond excited about it. He was terribly disappointed when he woke up on Field Day last week and it was pouring. Each class represents a country. AJ’s class picked Thailand, so he dressed himself in red, white and blue, the colors of the Thai flag. After the opening parade of nations, the games begin. I plan to walk up there later and take in some of the fun. I’ll try not to get too maudlin about the school before the year’s even over.

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5 Comments leave one →
  1. crankygirl permalink
    May 26, 2010 1:39 pm

    Why were (are?) all gym teachers from our childhood evil beasts like that. No business working with children–such sadists!

  2. freshhell permalink
    May 26, 2010 2:00 pm

    My new yoga teacher is trying to slowly kill me. Not sure how much longer I’ll stay in the class. Sigh. With arthritis making my fingers hurt sitting still, all of that fist making makes me cringe.

    I hated field day and gym class. We had a mean teacher, too. Dusty likes hers though apparently the sub is “mean” meaning strict and not palsy like the regular woman. Their field days sounds more fun. Lots of stations to go to, all the games are math-based (which as a kid would have been like pouring salt on a wound to me, but Dusty likes it) or cover some piece of curriculum. You know, the fun part of “learning is fun”, I guess. Red enjoyed her first one. I think because she got to run around outside until her face was flushed. Oh, and I hear there was candy. She’ll do pretty much anything for candy.

  3. May 26, 2010 2:45 pm

    Chiming in, I think field days are more fun now. I’m loving the warm weather. I was always the kind of kid who could drift off around the edges and look at dandelions when I wasn’t required to be doing some activity.

  4. May 26, 2010 3:13 pm

    Our gym teacher says that she “can’t” have field day events that have competition because parents get upset if one child wins and their child doesn’t. I’m all for teaching our kids that they’re all good at different things, but not all good at everything. There are kids who never get a chance to shine in the classroom, like mine do. Maybe we should let them have field day to show their stuff. I’d like a combination of competitive track and field events and the party games. I remember having to sign up for the events I wanted to participate in- and I believe there was a requirement that we choose at least one real sporting event although we had sack races too. We got ribbons for winning in the sports events, or nothing for losing. My kids have a trophy shelf full of trophies for things they didn’t win. They participated. I’m not sure we’re doing them a service here. Competition isn’t bad and neither is learning how to lose. I must be in the minority here.

  5. May 26, 2010 4:52 pm

    I don’t have a problem with Field Day being non-competitive, but I agree with you Jill. Even more so after working with the chess club this year. Kids blossom with healthy competition. And everyone deserves a chance to shine in front of his peers at the thing he does best. The key word, though is “healthy.” We’ve all seen what happens to youth athletics all too often. Yes, they get a participation trophy, but they still care about winning. Many if not most of the kids on AJ’s baseball team get paid for hitting. Sometimes it’s for a home run, which pretty much never happens in this league. But a lot of the time it’s just for getting on base. I find that offensive. It’s our job as teachers and parents to figure out how to build a child’s internal desire for success. If you pay them for everything, I think you just turn them into mercenaries. But maybe that’s good practice for the real world. AJ, like your boys, has a gazillion trophies. But if you ask him what his favorite is, he’ll tell you the trophy he got for placing 2nd in his chess club tournament. It’s not that he likes chess so much more than other things — he doesn’t. He loves sports. But the chess trophy is one he worked hard for and earned. The other ones he got for showing up. The difference matters and we do our kids a disservice by not showing them the rewards of moving beyond mediocrity.

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