So I may have mentioned my kindergarten PE class before.
Or maybe seventy-four times before.
There are only thirteen of them, but they feel like they’re a full herd of neurotic chimpanzees, with seventeen entire generations involved, when they show up in my gym. They always have something going on which brings me to wonder WHY ME?
Today, for instance, one of them came up to me and said, “Hey, Teacher! I got a slinky out of the prize box today!” I congratulated him on his slinky, because HAS HE EVER MADE IT TO THE PRIZE BOX BEFORE? This particular boy and the prize box do not connect often, would be my guess.
As I looked harder at the slinky, which he SEEMED to be holding, I realized that it was a whole lot less HOLDING OF THE SLINKY and more of THE OVERALL STRAP ON MY SNOW PANTS HAS BECOME PERMANENTLY ENTANGLED IN MY NEW SLINKY.
Which was, of course, followed by, “Teacher, can you get my slinky off of my snow pants button?”
With enough nerve pills, I am finding that I can actually accomplish most anything in kindergarten PE, because THE NERVE PILLS! THEY STRENGTHEN ME!
Or at least they blur it all out.
Today, though, we did stations in PE, where I set up different activities throughout the entire gym, and each little pumpkin was given a partner. The two of them flip around and run and bounce off the walls at each station, for precisely two minutes, and then I blow the whistle, and they get to race to the next station.
Of course you remember gym class stations! Remember in 7th grade, when you would lay on your belly at the push-ups station in an I’m-Taking-A-Much-Deserved-Break-Here pose, until the teacher turned around to stare at your side of the gym, at which point you’d snap back to attention and whip out enough perfect-formation push-ups to make any military drill sergeant proud?
(And remember how we could actually all DO perfect-formation push-ups in 7th grade, before old age and age-related weakness settled in?)
(And remember how we all wore two pastel-colored polo shirts, layered together, with the collars flipped up in the 7th grade? How cool was that? But I digress. Which, you know, is par for the course around here.)
I set out a golfing station today. We have, hidden in the bowels of my PE closet, a couple of these boards, which are covered in faux grass, the likes of which jazz up every child’s springtime Easter basket. There is a little metal bar, which stands approximately four inches high, and a golf ball on a wire hangs off of the bar. Ultimately, it’s a homemade device which professional golfers can stand next to and practice their swings with, and there’s some satisfaction in connecting the end of the golf club with the golf ball on the wire, because a perfect connection makes the ball spin in a state of perpetual motion.
And, when launched into that perpetual motion, the spinning golf ball makes a very loud, very satisfying whirring noise.
(Don’t judge the quality of my PE accessories; I teach at a private school, and our budget is zero dollars. I think some child’s golfing grandfather made these practice boards back in 1997. Sometimes I make paper-mache balls by placing strips of newsprint over balloons the night before, so that we can play kickball. Weaker kickers always get to go first, because the stronger kickers are sure to end the game by rupturing the Daily Press ball.)
(Oh, I kid. I totally make a gob of those homemade paper-mache kickballs. When we ruin one, I throw in another, and the game keeps going.)
(And also? When the boy was in kindergarten in his PUBLIC elementary school, I helped teach his PE class. And I would be lying if I said I didn’t covet that PE supply closet there. That’s when I realized that THE PUBLIC SCHOOL BUDGETS! I AM SUCH AN ENORMOUS FAN!)
Before class started today, I put the faux-grass-covered golf training center out, and I laid ONE, SOLITARY golf club at that station.
Never mind that the scooter station had two scooters for each partner to use. Or that the jump rope station had two jump ropes. Or that the hoola hoop station had two hoola hoops. I am the mother of a small boy, and I evaluate every piece of equipment that comes into our lives and judge it on the DANGER SCALE.
Wars have been initiated, fought and won with weapons less glamorous than a golf club. TWO golf clubs at this station would have been a sword fight ready and waiting to be battled. I told them that they’d have to (gasp!) take turns.
Taking turns is not a phrase that is easily understood in the kindergarten language. It’s kind of like shouting out the word democracy in some countries. I feared that the golf station wouldn’t last — that I would be dismantling it and simply saying, “When y’all get to THIS orange cone here — this orange cone where golfing used to be, before y’all broke one another’s noses with the golf clubs — y’all can just do some jumping jacks.” I feared the golf station. The kindergartners had noticed it; their attention was snagged. They had a newfound respect for the teacher who would lay such weaponry out before them and trust them with it.
We started the stations.
And listen, people! I wanted to sing a rousing chorus of “Oh, bring us a figgy pudding,” because TOTAL SCORE! Kindergarten children, when paired off in groups of two and told to circulate the gym every two minutes and LOOK! WE HAVE GOLF CLUBS OUT! behave in a manner that makes me feel like all is going to be well and completely right in the world.
Our PE class was golden! The Christmas spirit had fully descended upon us.
Can I just get an AMEN here?!
As the little punks shuffled out my gym doors, the first graders bounced in, and when they saw that the stations were set up and that OH MY WORD! NEW GOLF CLUB STATION! they rejoiced. One little boy even looked at me and said, “This is going to be the best PE day of my life!”
And first grade PE was every bit as golden. I began to plan an entire physical education curriculum around those stations. I envisioned having a fundraiser so that we could buy AN INDOOR PUTTING SYSTEM to be used in conjunction with the golf club that every child was treating with love and respect.
My second graders did fantastically well, too, and one of them said, “We should do stations more often!”
And then fourth grade came in.
AND SOMEONE STINKING BROKE MY GOLF CLUB. When I inspected it, I realized that I probably couldn’t point fingers and place blame, because THE CLUB! Cheap plastic! On account of no school budget aimed directly at PE equipment!
Or so I thought it was cheap plastic. Until I wiggled the broken part just a little, to determine whether duct tape would repair the injury or not and realized HOLY SNOT, BATMAN! IT’S TOTAL FIBERGLASS, AND MY FINGER IS NOW COMPLETELY FULL OF FIBERGLASS SLIVERS, LIKE IT’S BEEN HIT BY A FULLY LOADED PORCUPINE! I’M HIT! I’M HIT!
And I wanted the school nurse, because the fiberglass slivers filled my already-injured, left index finger. Double whammy.
Last week, I helped unload an enormous shipment of wreaths that arrived at the boy’s school, which the kids had sold as a fundraiser. (A fundraiser where the proceeds DO NOT have to go towards stellar PE equipment. On account of SCORE! THEY ALREADY HAVE STELLAR PE EQUIPMENT THERE!)
And when I say enormous shipment, I want y’all to envision boxes of wreaths stacked five high, as long as the Great Wall of China. And a few of us moms unpacked them all. And sorted them all. And cursed the day we ever signed up to be on the PTO.
(Until, that is, the boy’s buddy Quinn walked by us with a tray of Oreo cookies coated in white chocolate fudge, because BIRTHDAY TREAT! Somehow, the dipped Oreo made the wreath sorting bearable.)
Unfortunately, one of the boxes was filled with holly, which is a plant relative of the Ginsu knife, and I managed to take a holly thorn directly to the pad of my left index finger.
The only reason the holly thorn stopped going into my finger was because it hit the bone.
Blood? Yes. Pain? You cannot even imagine. Drama? The Academy nominated me.
And then, because I have a tendency to react differently to all the world’s stimuli than the rest of the population in Small Town, USA does, I ended up with this hard little knot of lumpage in my finger. And it was brilliantly red for days. And it really cut into my ability to type, because you hit the “T” key with your left index finger, and “T” is a very common letter in the English language.
A week later, my index finger is still sporting the holly-induced bump, and it still aches when a storm is brewing.
And today I filled that finger with fiberglass particles, which meant that I spent my entire Pre-Kindergarten PE time scraping a metal whistle against it, trying to dislodge the invisible barbs, because I had no credit card handy, and everyone knows you scrape a credit card over a bee sting to get the stinger out, and I was trying to watch the clock, so that I could blow my whistle every two minutes.
Which was NOT the whistle I was scraping my finger with, because CAN YOU EVEN IMAGINE? Fiberglass slivers in the bottom lip?! I shiver just typing the words!
And the fiberglass? Well, it totally shot the golden PE glow down!