Wednesday, April 20, 2011

The Meek Will Inherit The Gym

When I was a kid, I lived in fear of organized sports. This was a surprise to no one.

1980
I fail at crawling.

1983
I fall headfirst down a flight of concrete steps. (That’s got to explain my lack of motor skills, not to mention my love of Bethenny Ever After, right?)

1986
One day in first grade, upon learning I have gym class, I begin to weep.

Apart from totally dominating at scooter soccer (probably because the handicap was already built in), I was not good at any physical activity that required hand-eye coordination or strength in any part of my body. Even Red Rover terrified me—what if I couldn’t hold on tight enough? What if my tiny 40-lb. body couldn’t break through the chain of fists? WHAT IF I GOT CALLED OVER??????? I had some anxiety problems.

At the Quaker camp I went to, even though they were supposed to be peaceful, they would occasionally force me to stop making God’s Eyes and participate in a Lord of the Flies-style game of Capture the Flag, in which counselors would smear our faces with Ponds cold cream tinted with food coloring, stick a bandana in the back pocket of our shorts, and make us run around trying to “tag” someone out by grabbing their bandana. Needless to say, I surreptitiously removed my own bandana, used it to wipe the cold cream off my cheeks, and sat on the sidelines pretending I was going to vomit (I used the same general tactic for dodgeball, except in order to sit out I first had to get whacked really hard with a partially deflated orb, which made the same sound as a belly flop and hurt just as much.)

So imagine my inner child’s delight upon reading yesterday that the Department of Health has deemed Capture the Flag, Red Rover, kickball, dodgeball, and wiffleball unsafe for children! Oh, happy day!

Actually, I don’t agree with this decision at all—kids get hit with balls sometimes, and as long as they’re not attached to a human man it’s totally OK, even character-building!—but man, I would have been thrilled to get out of those activities with a legitimate, government-endorsed excuse back in the day. How much grief and humiliation would have been spared! How many more God’s Eyes I could have made! Red rover, red rover, let... me sit on my ass watching Saved By the Bell re-runs. Yes!

The more pressing question is, of course, how can I avoid passing on my wimp gene? Unless I man up, my kid may not have the muscle tone necessary to control its own bowels.

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17 comments :

  1. It sounds like your Department of Health is trying to make inactive wimps of all children. What's next on their list: skipping ropes?

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  2. Yeah, I used to tell my gym teacher I was in a bad accident and couldn't run track...

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  3. Whiffleball is unsafe? That ball weighs like negative two pounds.

    And dodgeball and capture the flag are really only unsafe when the kids who are playing them are total assholes.

    So, you know, most of them.

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  4. First of all, I thought you wrote that the counselors had you put bananas in your back pockets, which made me envision the funniest game of tag ever. All these uncoordinated kids running around with pudding faces and yellow phalli coming out of their butts.

    Second, how can kickball and wiffle ball be dangerous? The kickballs we used to use were so deflated and floppy you were lucky to kick it two feet in front of you. And the biggest danger from wiffle ball is ending up with the wiffle marks on your ass when you duck and cover because the ball is headed straight for you and while you are capable of catching it, doing so would mean you'd have to THROW THE BALL, and then everyone would know how awful you are at throwing. Or was that just me?

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  5. Nothing was worse than gym class! Oh, the humiliation! On the other hand, nothing was better than dodge ball when I was a camp counselor and the children were six. And I've totally passed on my wimp gene. My daughter is failing at rolling over and crawling now.

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  6. First, you were a crazy adorable baby. Second, I don't understand why we're so keen to keep today's kids from doing anything. I used to eat playdough all the time and inhale chalk dust like it was my job (only if I was writing with the chalk obviously. I didn't just crush up some chalk for the thrill.) My friend with a two-ish year old took him the ER recently for... eating playdough.
    Calm down folks. It's not that serious.

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  7. Capture the Flag was that horrible game that sent us into the woods looking for a flag that was usually up a tree and defended by big, fast teenagers. That's when we would find a bush, hide in it, and gossip until the game was over. This is not to be confused with Prisoners' Base which was on the field and was another horrible game that also involved Ponds cold cream and bandanas. (Any excuse for a bandana, that's the Quaker way.)

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  8. I'm pretty sure your kid won't have the muscle tone necessary to control it's own bowels for at least the first year and a bit of her/his life. So don't worry too much when he/she is pooping willy nilly. It doesn't mean he/she will be crap at sports.

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  9. i too hated organized sports. however, you win the internet for this:

    "kids get hit with balls sometimes, and as long as they’re not attached to a human man it’s totally OK, even character-building!"

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  10. Hmmm.... While many of the above activities are unpleasant, they do teach valuable lessons like how to dodge balls flying at your face, how to hide behind your team mate, and how to get off your lazy bum and move about for an hour. It's character building! Plus, if there's no more kick ball, what will this generations hipsters do with their evenings if they're not playing in Adult Kick Ball leagues?

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  11. WOW! So what's next, laws enforcing you to bubble wrap your kids before they go outside so they don't get injured?
    I shake my fist at the insanity of the government.

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  12. You never know if you will pass on that gene. My husband and I produced a jock child. We thought we brought the wrong kid home, but we didn't She's totally ours. Even worse, she enjoys the "out of doors" and wants to go camping. ANYTHING can happen when you reproduce. Anything at all.

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  13. I read that too. It's dumb. Football is played in almost every high school in America, and some kids have been PARALYZED by it, but nobody's recommending getting rid of the football programs, are they? Nope. I'd venture to guess that a 250-pound corn-fed teenage boy is capable of a lot more damage than a wiffle ball.

    But, hey, whaddo I know? I let my 3-year play all those games AND eat food off the floor. Yeah, we live on the edge in the B household.

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  14. I remember liking those group games, but I know I sucked at most of the gym stuff. I have always sucked at art. Both handicaps brought their own humiliations.
    It wasn't too hard for me to let my sons play organized sports, but I never could say yes to football. Just couldn't.
    I heard on the radio that there was so much laughter aimed at the Dept. of Health that they backpedalled and blamed "the previous administration" for the list of dangerous activities. No amount of regulation is going to replace common sense at summer camps. And I guess nothing will stop lawsuit happy people from suing when their kid gets beaned with a frisbee.

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  15. This post makes me sad. In elementary school I was a good reader, one of the better math students but you know what I ruled at Red Rover. I'm freaking undefeated to this day.

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  16. I hated Red Rover too. I was so tiny and I knew I couldn't break the hold. It was terrible.

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  17. Even Red Rover terrified me—what if I couldn’t hold on tight enough? What if my tiny 40-lb. body couldn’t break through the chain of fists? WHAT IF I GOT CALLED OVER??????? I had some anxiety problems.

    You are HYSTERICAL!!!!!!!!!

    I love how they've banned these "sports" in schools now. What's next? Hop Scotch "no good, kids may break an ankle!"

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