After my 2nd grade PE class wrapped up yesterday, I told them to change their shoes. I do this every time they have PE, because listen. They can wear their street shoes into the gym and kick them off and put their PE shoes ON… but when it comes time to exit the gym on the far right for recess, they will completely forget the fact that their sassy little sandals and their Crocs with the broken straps are still sitting along the wall. I am the mother-away-from-home to those children.
Some kids change their shoes very quickly, because Recess ranks as high on their lists as Oxygen and Candy. Some kids change their shoes very slowly, because their DNA is loaded with SLOTH and TORTOISE. And some kids simply cannot FIND their street shoes after PE, so there’s much looking and wondering about where on earth they could be, and questions of, “Did I wear my street shoes over to the gym?”
When their shoes are changed, they line up at the door with me. That’s where I stand, because at this point in the year, I have zero-point-zero desire to stand close to the Rubbermaid tubs where the gym shoes are stored. Those tubs stink with a smell of Bad Shoes that will burn your nose hairs right out and make you long for a revival with the smelling salts.
Every day, I seem to be standing there at the door with the FAST SHOE CHANGERS. So we talk, those quick kids and I. Yesterday, we talked about grown-up jobs, and one of them asked me while he was standing there, “Why did you become a PE teacher?” I told him it’s because I majored in English for two long years of college, and then realized that I was facing a life of grading 8th grade essays and poetry written by lovesick freshman girls. I thank the Lord to this day that I came to my senses and bailed out of English As A Major. I can’t keep the dates in history straight, except I do know that Columbus sailed the ocean blue in 1492, and that in 1814 we took a little trip, along with Colonel Jackson down the mighty Mississipp’. THOSE are the dates I remember. And science was out, because my brain doesn’t respond well to a bucket of hot grease, and that’s all science is to me. Chalk it up as DEEP FAT FRIED in the end. And math? Well. I like math when it follows formulas, and I ADORE solving equations for x. But you have to be careful with math, because eventually you don’t just find the number that is x… eventually they have you calculating imaginary numbers and writing down equations with too many variables, and then you just need to sit down with a glass of wine and make some changes in your life.
I teach PE.
And Hubs quotes Jack Black from the movie School of Rock a lot. “Those who can teach, do; those who can’t, teach gym.”
After answering the little fellow’s question that I had no desire to read 9th grade poetry on broken hearts and love gone bad, because I can hear all of that in a Taylor Swift song, I started asking the group of fast-shoe-changers what they were going to be when they grew up.
A fireman. That’s what the little guy told me.
A quarterback for the Detroit Lions was next. (This makes no sense; we live far from Detroit, and Detroit has one of the highest crime rates in America. Don’t move there, Little Man, no matter how much you like the Lions.)
(I’m sorry Detroit. We just like to fill our Suburbans full of gas without worrying about being mugged for the box of chicken nuggets that resembles a petrified log in our third seat.)
And then… one of my favorite little gals grinned and said, “I’m going to grow up and become a professional dog groomer! I’m going to tie bows in dogs’ ears, and I’m going to give cats baths, and I’m going to paint the toenails on guinea pigs with pink polish!!!” And then, in her usual display of energy and exuberance that is ALL HER, she hopped up and down with happiness.
Do y’all know what my very first thought was? It was that I needed to call her sweet mama and say, “Well. Your daughter’s college fund can officially be spent at Starbucks now. When should I meet you there for chai tea?”
Carry on, people. Carry on.