And the Nobel Prize Goes to the Inventor of Velcro!

Summer vacation is, officially, over. It’s like yesterday’s newspaper — full of good stuff, but it’s done now. I know this because I went back to teaching PE part time this afternoon, and I have just one thing to say.

Kindergarten gym class killed me today, people. Killed me dead.

Thirteen little bodies filed into my gym, completely overwhelmed with the space! LOOK AT ALL THIS SPACE TO RUN AND SCREAM AND JUMP AND HOP AND SKIP AND ROLL AROUND IN! JUST LOOK AT THE SPACE! That’s what they kept chanting!

So we put on our gym shoes, and eleven of those thirteen cutie pies cannot tie shoes, and why? Why, as a parent, if your five-year-old cannot tie the shoes, do you not buy something with that wonderment known as Velcro, so that the PE teacher does not beat her own head against the brick wall? Twelve minutes into the class, I had all the shoes tied, and one (just one) little fellow was sitting exactly where I’d asked the entire class to sit, and the other dozen were running! And skipping! And hopping! And screaming! And bouncing and rolling and tumbling, all over that big gym.

I blew the whistle and managed to round up eight of them, and I smiled and said, “Sit here. I’m going to collect the other five.” And I was pleased that I’d managed to corral the other five in short time (Threw my hands up for the judges to signal my time and everything, pleased that I’d be in first place on this one!), and when I herded those five to the designated meeting spot, I’d lost five of the original eight.

Because they had decided to go run! And skip! And bounce! And jump, jump, jump!

It was like having popcorn in a hot skillet, but without a good movie on the big screen in front of you.

The problem with these kindergartners is that they are just too stinking cute for words! I wanted to pinch them all and ask, “Listen. Will you come live at my house? You’re darling!”

Finally, with all thirteen of them in one spot, I began to explain our day’s game, and one of them raised his hand and said, “Teacher, I have a loose tooth.”

I love when they call me “Teacher.”

I told him that loose teeth were for big kids, and now that he was big enough for kindergarten, he was certainly big enough for loose teeth, and that I hoped the Tooth Fairy brought him the big check when that tooth finally fell out.

And then I tried to explain some more fast game concepts, and another boy raised his hand and said, “Um, I forgot your name. I had it in my head when you told me, and now I don’t have it in my head, and I don’t know where it went to, but I don’t know your name any more.”

I told him my name. Again. And I tried to dive in and say, “We’ll just learn the game as we go along, because we are soooo running out of time here!”

And then, Mr. Loose Tooth screeched at the top of his lungs, “MY TOOTH FELL OUT! IT FELL OUT! I’M BLEEDING! I’M BLEEDING BAD! MY TOOTH, MY TOOTH, MY TOOTH!”

Sure enough. There was a gaping hole, dead-center, in his bottom jaw. There was blood oozing down his chin. And the other dozen went nuts! They circled him like a pack of lions on an old gazelle, exclaiming, “Does it hurt? You’re bleeding! Teacher, he’s bleeding! Where’s your tooth at? Can I see your tooth? Teacher!! Teacher, he’s still bleeding!”

And then I realized that OH MY WORD! This was his VERY FIRST LOST TOOTH! And his mama and daddy hadn’t been there to see it, and it was just me! It was ME who got to see this little punk’s first tooth come out! It was me who got to help him get it into a plastic baggie and get his chin wiped up, and tell him how brave he was! And I felt so sorry for his parents. The second day of kindergarten, and he lost his very first tooth in PE, and they missed it.

When it was all said and done, we played our game for four minutes this afternoon.

And as I tied everyone’s street shoes and pushed those adorable five-year-old punks out the gym doors toward the playground, since it was recess time, I began fantasizing about my future retirement, when I will live in an assisted-living community and watch my programs on TV all day. I will take my Geritol, and I will buy support hose, and I will yell at Hubs when he turns his hearing aids down because he’s tired of listening to me talk. And I don’t think that those days are too far off, people, because I’m finding that I seriously needed a nap after the kindergartners left my gym today.

And so I’m heading to bed right now.

So that I can do it all again tomorrow afternoon.

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