Just a place for random rantings and ravings.....

Wednesday, October 18, 2006


As you can see from the date of my last post, I've had a bit of massive writer's block. Blame it on stress or lack of quirky and interesting topics, I don't know. Though I won't burden you with an egotistical rant about why I should be missed (ala Pee Pee Man), I will say that in the course of three weeks, I've started writing two different posts that went nowhere. The first was about large cock-a-roaches, headless fish and Ted Nugent (don't ask...) and the second about elementary school friendships. Needless to say, I woke up today knowing that I had taken the day off and somehow found a whole lot of inspiration:

This morning I turned on the tube and the first news story I see on CNN is about "Tag" a favorite childhood game- along with dodgeball, football and other "contact" chasing games- being BANNED at Willett Elementary School in South Boston. I could feel the tape player in my head (I'm a child of the 80's!) doing a rewind, trying hard to comprehend that a GAME, called TAG was BANNED! Huh?!?! You mean kids can get in trouble for chasing each other around on the playground? What a novel idea! Why don't we start suspending kids for wearing these "new" mohawks or having on dirty clothes or smiling even? I think I could get a lot more done during the course of the school day knowing that my classroom of candy mouthed, glucose injected, hyperactive children can go outside just to sit down against the building rather than follow their instincts and run around like a herd of stampeding buffalo. That's EXACTLY what we need at school!

(ugh, so HE'S the reason why there's a bunch of kids running around my school like this?)

As you know already, I'm a 4th grade teacher and I've been working at the same school for 6 years. If you ever visit my place of employment, you'll notice two things, a) our school building is fairly new and b) there is a large field in the back with JUST GRASS. No slides or jungle gym(except for 1st grade and lower), no goal posts, no paint. Just a large grassy area surrounded by trees. The beauty in the simplicity of our field is that the children have to use their imaginations and figure out how to best use it when we go outside to play. Some kids grab footballs and play "Tackle the Man" (which was called "Smear the Queer" back in my day, but I guess that's not PC these days), some kids play dodgeball, other kids just look each other in the eyes and all of a sudden bolt from their starting positions chasing each other around and around, almost as if they stole each other's lunch money! What would I look like having to start class tomorrow with this speech:

OK class, time to settle down. I have an announcement to make. From now on, when we go outside, you cannot chase each other on the field, play tackle football, or throw balls at each other.

Can you imagine the puzzled looks on the faces of my 9 and 10 year old kids? The smart ones would ask, "But why Mr. Rahmaan?" and I'd have to explain "It's a safety issue and the school administration doesn't want you to get hurt." Most kids would begrudgingly accept it and move on, thinking about their first assignment of the day, but the intelligent ones would be looking for loopholes. "So Mr Rahmaan, can we walk quickly after each other and softly throw the balls when we play dodgeball? What if someone is running towards you, not chasing, but running towards you? Can you run away from them, but only for a few seconds, just to make sure they aren't chasing you?" That puts MY ass into a cunundrum. Then I have to say, "Ummmmm... Well, walking quickly after each other is alright, but throwing nerf balls at each other, even softly is not okay. Wait! No, walking quickly isn't okay either....but....ummm...." Who looks like the idiot now?

To be fair, I read the article on the issue to get both sides of the story and they interviewed Gaylene Heppe, the principal of Willett Elementary School and a couple of parents whose children attended the school where the ban was put into place. The principal said, "Recess is "a time when accidents can happen." and one parent, Celeste D'Elia, said "I've witnessed enough near collisions," and that her son feels safer because of the rule. My question is, what war-torn, mine field of a country did these people grow up in? "Near collisions"? We're not talking about close calls between two jet fuel powered F-16's here, we're talking children. Of course accidents will happen and some kids will get hurt, but do we need to sign a waiver everytime they scrape a knee? I'm mean REALLY, what has happened to our society that people want to ban things like water guns, video games, music and TAG, but REAL guns are just fine?

One simple answer: LITIGATION (no offense Mama Zandile!)

My kid got broke his arm because you let him run around outside- so I'm suing you
My wife got lung cancer from smoking your cigarettes- so I'm suing you
I gained 300 lbs. and have heart disease from eating your greasy ass burgers- so I'm suing you
MY kid wandered into YOUR yard and got bit by YOUR dog so I'm suing you

How about this, my head hurts from all the bitching from you irresponsible assholes, so I'M suing YOU! The true rationale behind the ban on Tag is not a safety issue, it's that schools are afraid of getting a host of lawyers knocking on their doors seeking compensation. If you really want to protect kids, get them from in front of the fucking t.v. and put their fat asses on bicycles! Recess is much more than a physical activity, it's a learning environment, one much more effective than the confines of a stale classroom. Diplomacy is a word most kids can't even pronounce, but it's a life skill that they learn when they're choosing teams, establishing rules and working out disputes amongst themselves, ALL on the playground. Take that from them, and you take a valuable tool that will help get many of our kids out of unwanted situations in the future. Trust me, the kids in my class who play well on the playground are the ones who are liked and respected by their peers. Those who walk around by themselves and don't play or associate with the other kids outside, well, they usually have a harder time getting along with their classmates INSIDE and are essentially outcasts- already. Man, I hope this thing doesn't move beyond the walls of Willett! It would be a shame for the "adults" of this nation to hijack the one adult-like activity children are allowed to freely participate in, as kids...

While we're on the subject of children, have you heard the LATEST excuse from that perverted punkass, ex-congressman Mark Foley? He's next on my list! I told you I got inspired....


Anonymous micki said...

BRAVO & WELCOME BACK. I totally agree that we are developing into a nauseautingly LITIGIOUS society. Killing Tag today killing natural born-innocence of children tomorrow. i blame our leader, and i use the word "our" very loosely; he is not now, or never has been someone i presume to be a leader. I'm glad you're around to take some of the insanity out of the reality of today's youth. Makes one wonder where this inane, vacant, utterly stupid, vacant mode of thought comes from. For the children's sake, Thank God for your presnce & commitment to youth. love you, micki

Thu Oct 19, 08:16:00 AM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

I love it!! You speak the truth so well......

Thu Oct 19, 09:04:00 AM

Blogger Kiyotoe said...

#1 - we're too old for sibling rivalry brother so cease and desist with the jealousy already. It's such an ugly thing coming from a grown ass man.

#2 - I've learned since you've been teaching that it takes a seriously messed up in the head type of cat to WANT to be a teacher. Not settle for a teaching job, or fall back on a teaching job, but to WANT to teach (that's you) due to the hazy lines that separate what's best for the students and what's best for the "system". All the red tape seems like it would extinguish that fire that makes you love what you do.

So keep on keepin' on brotha. But again, please stop hatin'. Not everybody can be me.

Thu Oct 19, 11:13:00 AM

Blogger mssmith06 said...


Your back. I understand about the writers block. I was there for a minute. I agree it is ridiculous how much we coddle (pardon the spelling) our children. I am now teaching the first generation of students in high school that were not allowed to play tag and dodge ball. These things are the very essence of childhood culture and without them there are disconnects. The fun of being a kid is having the scrapes and broken bones to tell about later. Getting the mulicolored crazy looking casts so that everyone will sign them and you have to beg your mother not to throw away the funky, germ ridden monstrosity. That is childhood. Telling stories of spraining your ankle playing tetherball are what make childhood memorable. (by the way don't ask. LOL) Children are not allowed to be children anymore they are young adults. We are going back to the time before child labor laws when children were considered at the age of consent at 7. It is all down hill from here. See that is why I don't have kids.

Ms. Denva

Thu Oct 19, 11:43:00 AM

Blogger paz y amor said...

Call me a masochist of sorts. I'm fighting the good fight and all though I want to strangle somebody's child every now and then, I know I'm doing the right thing. I guess it's better to love the kids and hate the job than just hate the job.

Is it my jealousy or your ego? Let's ask The Counselor- and no bribing her either. You know you don't play fair!

Thu Oct 19, 01:35:00 PM

Anonymous Mama Zandile said...

Thanks for adding me to the update list :-) I also groaned over this story, and yes litigation played a role in getting us to this point. That's why I'm a DEFENSE lawyer....I defend the school systems / companies / individuals that get sued over this kind of crap.

With a few honorable exceptions, much of the plaintiff's bar is made up of extortionists and gamblers. I really see the contrasts when I travel in South Africa. The first time we took our son with us he was only 18 months old and every time we asked for a high chair in a restaurant over there they happily handed us nothing less than some sort of jerry-rigged death trap. If I even agreed to put him in it I felt I had to keep a constant hand on it to prevent his delicate skull from being dashed on the floor. My initial thought was that I could appreciate some of the advances in the U.S. that are born out of litigation, it definitely motivates corporations to make their products much safer than they would otherwise be. But the flip side of that is that we become reliant upon their safety engineers to the degree that we are encouraged to leave our safety in THEIR hands and not take personal responsibility for it anymore. Same thing with the playground at my son's pre-school. The ground was so filled with rubberized woodchips that the kids would toss themselves practically head first off the top of the structures because they had no fear of bouncing. While I appreciated the safety factor I again felt like we were sacrificing something....kids SHOULD develop a healthy respect for the ground. We're teaching them that their well-being is everyone else's problem...... ok....this is becoming longer than a comment should be...:-)

Thu Oct 19, 01:48:00 PM

Blogger paz y amor said...

Hey, thanks for checkin in! Make your comments as long as you need them to be. I'd rather read more than less. Honestly, I didn't think about how litigation of the past has actually made things SAFER for us, and those types of lawsuits are definitely beneficial. At the same time, I think it's the overzealous nature of lawsuits these days and the lack of personal responsibility on the part of the plaintiff that make them seem frivalous when they head to court- but I guess you know more about that than me.....

Thu Oct 19, 03:17:00 PM

Anonymous p toes said...

oh yeah. we´re in a hazy area here. i hear you on the high chair bit. suing has made things safer. i always think of nader´s raiders and car safety--it was cheaper not to recall cars that would blow people up, so they wanted to cut their losses and make loot.

here in quito, a while ago i had my hand cut open from a thick wire that was sticking out of a light pole in a public place. (and yes, i´ve had my tetnus). now that i´m watching, i see them all over the place. and when people saw my hand, they all related similar stories. there are often no warnings over holes, and i´ve witnessed some nasty spills. i sometimes laugh at this stuff and say how in the u.s. that would be a law suit and la la la, but i have heard new of tragedies from these kinds of things...and then there is the issue of laws and litigation ensuring that EVERYONE will receive quality service, not just folks of a certain race.

but then we have ambulance chasing and the biz that paz so lovely outlined.

let´s face it. tag should stay. w and a whole lotta other junk should go. paz keep up the good fight.

Thu Oct 19, 04:21:00 PM

Blogger DesLily said...

Lesse.. back when I was young (in the time of one room schoolhouses!.. ok maybe not, but close!) We had some classes like "cooking" (utoh burned myself lets sue), "sewing" (utoh, got stuck with a needle, sue, sue ,sue) "Art" (utoh, overextending imagination, sue again!) Oh, lets not forget "shop" for the guys..good lord! all those tools! someone is bound to get hurt!
... and then they said Kids are overweight and yet what did they do? Eliminated Physical Ed!! (makes perfect sense don't you think?)..
so.. after taking away all they could from the older kids it's now time to aim frustrations at the younger kids..what better then to take away fun and laughter because one MIGHT get hurt?
Hmmm lets think again.. I could get hurt crossing a street if a car hit me.. lets ban crossing all streets! yeah that's the ticket!
I could fall if is stand up..so lets not stand anymore..
I could choke of food so lets not eat anymore...
I guess someone just has nothing more to do then to try to make life miserable for kids.. I wonder what will be next?

Tue Oct 24, 08:46:00 AM

Blogger paz y amor said...

Banning the sun, cause of all the sunburns people get from tanning themselves on the beach! It's sad, sad, sad. But P-toes and Mama bring up good points, at some certain juncture, meritous lawsuits have a place and improve standards of living, but it's bordering a national obsession it seems...

Tue Oct 24, 06:16:00 PM


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