Thursday, October 22, 2009

A Time to Love and a Time to Hate

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And so it begins—indoor recess season. Help me Baby Jesus.

In Pre-K, the children must have two thirty minute gross motor periods a day. They need it. And really, don't we all? If I ran the world, every single person would get outdoor recess every day, rain or shine. CEOs and CPAs would hang the closed sign on their office door, skip outside and climb on a jungle gym for twenty minutes. Then they'd have some animal crackers and a tiny carton of milk, topped off by a bedtime story and a nice little nap. Now wouldn't that be lovely? I speak from experience when I tell you—yes, it is lovely indeed. In fact, next to 2:35, recess is my favorite part of the day—having actual conversations with other teachers on the playground, breathing in some fresh air, getting a dose of Vitamin D, saying hey to Mother Nature.

Two teachers at my school at the start of recess.

The same two teachers, thirty minutes later.

And I'm dead serious when I say I think they need it every single day. I'd take them out to dance in the rain if I didn't think I'd lose my license. Come on, kids, grab yer galoshes; we're gonna make mud pies! That, would be awesome. But of course, that's crazy talk. Last year I got stopped mere inches from the door, by the school nurse of all people. Behind me stood an excited queue of kids, bundled up to experience the first snowfall of the season. But this is Arkansas, and there are laws in place down here protecting children from the menace of Nature. Southern children, as well documented by science, cannot endure temperatures below forty degrees and will die sudden and painful deaths upon impact with precipitation. So we were sent back to our room, me properly chastised and them thoroughly crushed. What was I thinking, taking kids out to play in the snow?! What kind of reckless monster am I? So indoor recess it is, if it rains, snows or is deemed too cold to go out—too cold being a ridiculously subjective term which I shall not discuss further for fear of angering the school district gods. While I thoroughly enjoy being outdoors, I'd rather not end up living there.

I'm sure there are a thousand perfectly peachy ways to handle indoor recess, but for the life of me, I can't seem to find a one. How does one manage allowing twenty four-year-olds to be physically active for thirty minutes in a confined area while still maintaining even the illusion of control? Yes, I admit it, I am a card carrying Control Freak and I cannot allow my classroom to turn into a mosh pit. Not unless they're willing to lighten up a bit on their Victorian attitudes about alcohol on school grounds. Seriously, just a little nip would smooth a lot of rough edges on a rainy Friday.

It's tempting just to let them watch a little TV—educational TV, of course. They'd be happy, and more importantly, they'd be still. But again, that pesky drive to remain employed clears its throat and shakes its self-righteous little head at me. Bitch. Okay, okay . . . gross motor it is—active, yet controlled. Go when I say go; stop when I say stop. I've got it! Musical chairs! Perfect.

Or not. I don't know what sadist invented this horrible little game, but I'm guessing it was Darwin. As it turns out, the whole object is to make every child in the room lose, one by miserable one, until they are all dejected and crying. In order to accomplish this goal, players must aggressively muscle their way into whatever chair they can wrench away from their weaker, slower and more polite friends. The eventual winner holds no special talent or athletic ability, aside from being the meanest badass kid in the room. Yay for you! You're gonna make us so proud in juvie! Or Washington.

Damn it's gonna be a long winter.
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1 comment:

Jomama said...

I always hated musical chairs since I always lost...thanks for pointing out that SO DOES EVERYONE ELSE except one!

I grew up in the North East, with happy memories of playing on piles of snow. The teachers would remind us not to throw snowballs, or splash in the puddles if it was raining.

They don't let the kids out in the rain in California these days either. They just watch TV inside.