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....