Goodness, Gracious, Great Balls Of Fire

We have five weeks of school left.

On one hand, FIVE WEEKS!  Can you even believe that the light at the end of the school year tunnel is so close already?  And on the other hand, FIVE WEEKS!  Can you even believe that there are STILL five entire weeks of this school year left, because didn’t we start this year in September of 1988?

You know, when Bon Jovi was the cassette to have and a spiral-permed, side ponytail with Aqua Netted bangs spelled out SHE HAS THE BEST HAIR IN THE ENTIRE HIGH SCHOOL?

I’ll just be honest with you and say that I’m looking forward to an existence beyond weekly lesson plans that require some creative thinking on my part, and telling 3rd graders continually that playing dodgeball every single PE class will not get the state standards met, because we actually have to learn things like PROTEIN IS GOOD and THESE FATS ARE BAD and HOW TO DRIBBLE A BALL WITH ONE HAND.

No child in my gym is going to be left behind on the basketball court.

My 3rd grade class clown asked, “Well… can’t you just READ us a list of the bad fats over the microphone, while we play dodgeball?  Would that work?”

If only life was that easy.

Right now, we are smack in the middle of my baseball unit for gym class, which is my favorite, because softball was MY SPORT, y’all.  I played it every summer of my life, well into my adult years.  I don’t mean to brag, but I probably could have been an Olympian, if I’d dedicated myself to more practices than I did to flipping the pages in Tiger Beat, and gently pulling out the staples in the center of the glossy pin-ups of Rick Springfield for my bedroom wall.

The most wonderful thing about planning my baseball unit to coincide with the opening of baseball season is that it keeps RAINING, and the rain causes baseball to become an indoor sport, instead of something we play outside on the grassy field, where baseball was meant to be enjoyed.

For the past few weeks, we have been working on learning how to run the bases.  Do you think that all children get to the 2nd grade and understand that after you bat the ball at home plate, you take off for 1st base, which is to the right?  No.  No, they do not reach 2nd grade and absorb this concept through osmosis.  A decent percentage of them will connect with the ball at home plate, and run straight for second base… or even third.  We have done all kinds of fun relays and drills around four bases, as I sing out, “This is the way the ball player runs, the ball player runs, the ball player runs…”

It’s really no wonder that they all claim the art teacher as their favorite teacher.  She’s constantly flinging glitter at them and playing the radio, while I sing them corny songs that I make up on the spot.

With the downpour yesterday, I brought in my oversized, plastic bat that is approximately as big around as a brontosaurus’ tail, and a plastic ball.  Indoor baseball it was.  The goal of the day was EVERYONE WILL HIT A PITCHED BALL, EVEN IF WE DIE TRYING.  I did all the pitching and had to jump out of the way when my athletes got a piece of the ball.  I was without a glove, and that hard, plastic ball was really zinging.  And then, I had to ignore the sighs and the eye rolls and the three boys laid out on the gym floor as they moaned, “Why are we not doing strikes?!  Why are we democratically allowing seventeen swings and misses, just so everyone can put a check mark beside HITS A PITCHED BALL?  WHY IS THE 3RD GRADE SO HARD?!”

Because life is unfair, kids, and sometimes your PE teacher wants the smallest little girl in your class to know the satisfaction of smacking a ball off a pitcher.

The smallest little girl in the 3rd grade ended up at home plate, and had no idea how to stand.  I helped her.  We situated her feet.  We situated the bat on her shoulder.  We encouraged her to stare the pitcher down and put on her mean face, which made her laugh out loud.

And then I pitched to her.

And then I pitched to her again.

And then I pitched to her again.

And then I moved a little closer and pitched to her again.

And then I pitched to her again.

And after approximately twenty times of her swinging to the wonderful encouragement of boys palming their faces in the outfield and hollering out, “The bat is the size of a tree!  HOW CAN YOU KEEP MISSING,” I scooted up really close to her.

You know… REALLYCLOSE.

REALLYCLOSEREALLYCLOSEREALLYCLOSE.

I gave her the slowest pitch I could manage.

And that little thirty-eight pound, 3rd grade girl, who weighs less than my four-year-old does, connected the bat with the ball…

… and she smashed it, with flames coming out of the back of that ball, right into my face.

Have you ever been to a family hog slaughtering?

There is less blood at one of those get-togethers than there was in the gym yesterday.  My nose burst like a pile of dynamite had been unleashed at Hoover Dam.  I had blood pouring down my neck and both of my arms and the front of my shirt, while I clutched my nose with both hands and hollered for someone to grab some paper towels from the nearby bathroom, because YOUR PE TEACHER IS ABOUT TO BLEED OUT HERE, and I’D LIKE TO GET THIS STOPPED BEFORE I FAINT FROM BLOOD LOSS.

People, I had blood in my eye.

I also had three 3rd graders bawling their heads off, as they circled me like a pack of protective tigers, shouting, “ARE YOU OKAY??!!  ARE YOU GOING TO DIE??!!”

Someone alerted another teacher, and the alarm was sounded.

OUR PE TEACHER IS LOSING BLOOD QUICKLY!  SOMEONE GET THE PADDLES!

My teeny-tiny 3rd grade girl now knows the full satisfaction of hitting a pitched ball, and I can mark that achievement off for her.  And I’m thankful to say that I can still claim that I’ve never needed a blood transfusion, because after slinging blood everywhere and causing my gym to look like a grim crime scene, everything was under control in fifteen minutes.

Which was when I realized the ball had also managed to split my upper lip open.

In other words, no spiral-permed, side ponytail is going to be able to make me look hot this week.  I’m just going with the look of a cage fighter for the next few days.

Y’all have a good evening.

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