Every spring I get a wild hair in my PE classes, and I decide that YES! WE REALLY CAN DO THIS!! And then I bring out a plastic bat and a plastic wiffle ball, and we get after it, because LOOK AT ME TEACH THIS PACK OF TINY FIRST GRADERS HOW TO HIT A PITCH! They are hitting real pitches! They are hitting wiffle balls that are FLYING THROUGH THE AIR AT THEM!
And then, after the very first day of this… every. single. spring. … it dawns on me that first graders really CAN’T, as a whole, actually… you know… HIT… a pitch. Why don’t I drag out the plastic tee? Why don’t we put the wiffle ball on the plastic tee, and bat that way? I think it’s because I’m an overachiever, and if the first grade teacher is going to teach our students long division, then I’m going to have them hitting real pitches from home plate like they’re prodigies destined for a major league team. Don’t let it ever be said that I didn’t do my part in prepping these children for the college draft.
Today I tossed seven hundred and twenty-two million underhand pitches across a rubber home plate in the gym, during that first grade PE class. Exactly nineteen of those were hit. By the time I sent the first graders outside for recess, I asked if our school had an athletic trainer who could ice my shoulder and work some Ben Gay into the muscles. You can’t even begin to imagine my disappointment when our principal said, “We’re a private school that can’t even afford to buy you new wiffle balls, if the fourth graders split another one in half; we don’t have an athletic trainer with a massage table.”
When I get one of these little bat-swinging prodigies into the Show, I expect him to remember me and say, “My old PE teacher could use a young assistant who could pitch balls to first graders. I think I’ll pay for one to be hired.”
All the blesses.
One of the first graders said to me, “When do the kids get to pitch? When can I pitch?” I stared at him like he’d suddenly sprouted horns and replied, “Basically… NEVER. Y’all can’t even hit what THE TEACHER IS THROWING ACROSS THE PLATE, and I’m nailing the strike zone nine out of ten times. I’ll celebrate my fiftieth birthday before one of you seven-year-olds gets a pitch in there that can be hit!” I may have sounded judgemental, but it felt like fifteen years went by in our forty-minute gym class.
Pitch. Swing. Miss. Pitch. Swing. Miss. Pitch. Swing. Miss.
It’s basically an ABC pattern.
Thankfully, I picked the second graders up after recess, and they were overjoyed to learn that they’d be playing BASEBALL! REAL LIVE BASEBALL… JUST WITH THIS PLASTIC BALL WITH HOLES IN IT!! And I must’ve trained them well last year, when THEY were just amateur first graders, because my beloved second graders BLASTED that wiffle ball all over the gym! I felt like Oprah, as I hollered out, “You get an athletic scholarship! You get an athletic scholarship! EVERYONE gets an athletic scholarship!!!”
By the time the fourth graders came in for PE, we were getting down with a regular wiffle ball GAME (instead of just
batting swinging practice), that involved some new rules called CAN WE THROW THE BALL AT THE RUNNER AND GET HIM OUT, IF WE HIT HIM BELOW THE KNEECAPS? I didn’t see why not, as long as y’all don’t bust one of them wiffle balls in half again, because this is a private school, and we are poor and can’t afford new wiffle balls, let alone a real massage therapist to see to the needs of the PE teacher’s sore shoulder.
My first graders will return to the gym tomorrow, all bright-eyed and full of batting excitement, and I will pitch again… and again… and also again... times seventy-six million… and by the time they leave, they will be hitting machines. Second grade proved that to me today. Meanwhile, I fully intend to bring back the smell of Icy Hot and make it sexy again.
I just have to share this one quick thing with you, because when my friend Jessica, who is a powerfully amazing preschool teacher, sent this little snapshot to me, I nearly wept with all the pure joy I felt in my heart… until I learned that it may not be real.
And by may not be real, I mean not real. In other words… fake news.
I mean… seriously! If we can put a man on the moon, replace a hip with plastic and metal, and create refrigerators with cameras in them that SCAN YOUR FOOD INSIDE, and then send a picture to your phone, so that you know if you have butter or not at home, WHILE YOU ARE SHOPPING AT THE GROCERY STORE… then why on earth can we not find someone to invent the VacuSort??!
It’s like inventors aren’t even TRYING, as they sit in their labs with their product protocols, and dream up refrigerators with cameras in them, instead of honest housecleaning help for moms. The VacuSort could revolutionize the way we pick up toys! It could restore sanity to mothers across the globe, quicker than a glass of wine can.
So basically, my plea tonight is directed straight at the hearts of inventors: Please, inventors… make the VacuSort become a reality, and make it affordable, and make it happen before Thing 2 graduates from high school, because we currently own more Lego bricks than grains of sand on the world’s beaches. And while I”m at it, invent a wiffle ball pitching machine that costs just ten American dollars and can save my rotator cuff. Thank you.
Y’all have a good Tuesday evening.