Sunday, March 13, 2005

To the Freaks, the Beautiful, Beautiful Freaks

Because of the comments received and email sent regarding Cold Ethyl, I thought it best to respond this way rather than hiding my rage in comments.

Thanks to all who let their pain be known -- though we may be strangers, we are, on some level, kindred spirits, and I have this obscene urge to give all of you a big hug. Power to the weirdos!

Another thing: I realize that not all physical education teachers are Cold Ethyls. I know that sure as shit. Unfortunately, my path in life lead me to only the asshole PE teachers, and they are all I have to base my opinion on. Apparently, the majority of comments and emails point to frighteningly similar experiences, which is a damn shame. Thus the following:

Physical education is a useless waste of money, money that could best be put toward truly important programs such as music, art and after school activities. Now, before some of you scream about how important it is that kids get their exercise, yes, of course it is -- but how many of you really got a good workout while in gym class? Being hit by dodgeballs is hardly a good workout, doing a chin-up or two is not a good workout; PE is nothing but show, and does not teach our youth how to attain fitness or achieve a healthy well-being. There is no obvious benefit to forcing children into embarrassing, sometimes dangerous activities (I broke my arm in third grade after I fell through the open bars of a jungle gym --- I’d begged the gym teacher to not make me climb that high, as I was, and still am, terrified of heights).

Routine PE should be optional after sixth grade, and in subsequent grades, children should be able to pick and choose which activities they feel comfortable with. In lieu of, say, swimming or gymnastics, or asinine things like dodgeball and rope climbing, kids should have instruction on proper nutrition coupled with actual exercise time such as riding a stationary bike or weight training.

I believe in educating our kids, not giving them complexes. But that’s just me, I guess.

As a side note, one of my kids has Asperger's Syndrome, though she can't be pigeon-holed as such -- she displays many of the characteristics, including clumsiness and "confusion" regarding game rules, i.e., you hit the ball, catch the ball, run over there, stay in your position, etc., but confounds the clueless and entirely ignorant doctors by not fitting perfectly into the AS stereotype. I told them to stick their fucking meds and to learn what AS is all about instead of trying to do the "easy" thing. It's amazing how difficult it's been for us to receive proper help here. Anyway, she now receives occupational therapy and is in the special ed. program at school, but is high-functioning, extremely creative, and smart, not to mention gorgeous inside and out. Anyway, she's at the age now where other kids are noticing the "differences," and some bully kid at school spit on her during gym the other day. I promised her that one day, that kid would grow up to be a miserable failure and she will become something great and wonderful.

All of us have something beautiful and unique to contribute to this world, and it hurts my soul to know that many of us are stifled, shamed and bullied into not realizing our beauty, our full potential and worthiness. Children should be respected, listened to and cherished, and if rules must be revised or even broken to achieve a happy and healthy child, well then, I say break the damn rules. It's time we listen to our kids and work out a suitable health program that will not only strengthen their bodies, but their spirits as well.

So, to the entire Department of Education, I say this: Please don’t kill the messengers-- kill the gym teachers.


At 1:56 PM, Blogger Alexis said...

Just for future reference - I am not above beating the monkey shit out of kids that spit on other kids. Especially your kid. BTW, I did have the exception to the rule - Jeanne Wagoner was the last PE teacher I had as a senior in High school - she was absolutly amazing. There will never be another like her - R.I.P.

At 7:14 PM, Blogger windreader said...

I totally agree. I have spent many hours in therapy - as the therapist - helping people process painful memories of dodgeball or being picked last for the team or otherwise humiliated in gym. I tried everything to get out of it. and now I pay money to belong, and go, to a gym. but I had to learn about fitness and healthy lifestyles elsewhere because it was never taught in school. and on a second note, I wish the parents of my clients - kids with emotional and/or mental health disabilities - were as good at advocating for their kids as you are. so many of the parents I work with see their kids as a burden to be dealt with until they can find someone to unload it on. you see your daughter as having a gift to share, if only with those who are willing to try to find it. but then, if more parents were like you I might need to find another job.

At 8:29 PM, Blogger Ms. Lori said...

Aw, Alexis, I'm glad that you had a good experience with your teacher. Bless Ms. Wagoner's soul.

Thank you, Alan. Your words mean a lot to me, especially coming from someone like you who knows where it's at. You made my night.

At 4:07 AM, Blogger Deek Deekster said...

gym teachers not know for patience with children who have communication problems.

i work with an adult man who has aspbergers. he hates games, can't join in. they make no sense. he can converse ok, but mainly "on-topic" (blues) unless we excercise great patience - which we do.

however that hasn't stopped him becoming a cup-winning national champion at blues harmonica.

nice article :)

At 7:57 AM, Blogger Anne said...

I was an outsider as a kid. Went to special-ed (eye, balance problems) and yes, was spit on and worse. It honed me, it made me strong. Your child will survive it and will be stronger for it. Be there for her and let her know that she is unique and wonderful. Time and distance will take care of the rest. Who knows where my bully girls are now, but somehow I think I'm much better off than are they.

At 11:06 AM, Blogger J. Stephen Reid said...

I'm sort of ashamed to admit that I kind of liked dodge ball as a kid.

Then one day, one sickly, skinny, asthmatic kid turned to run from a ball and slammed face-first into the wall. He broke his nose and we weren't allowed to play dodge ball anymore.

The poor guy took so much crap after that since us not being able to play was "his fault."

I'm 100% for having actual fitness activities like weights and yoga and stuff like that instead of stupid games. I doubt anybody ever busted their snout running away from a Bow-flex.

At 3:07 PM, Blogger G-Man said...

This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

At 3:10 PM, Blogger G-Man said...

I have been working in elementary schools (in Canada) for most of my life and I can tell you that if the practice of medicine developed as slowly as the pracice of teaching, we would have run out of cemetary space years ago. My son, who has a learning disability, has finally, at the age of 24, found his path in a small community college in the study of horticulture. I know that his elementary and high school can take little credit for his success in college. P.E. is just one area that is badly in need of change to meet the needs of kids.

At 3:58 PM, Blogger Ms. Lori said...

Thanks, Deek. Apprciate your comments.

Anne, I have a feeling you are, too. Thanks for writing.

Joshie, say three Hail Marys and an Our Father, son. You have some serious penance to do. ;-)

Gary, glad to hear that your son is doing well. You is a good daddy, Daddy. ;-)

At 9:31 PM, Blogger AcouSvnt said...

I forgot to mention earlier ... in 8th grade or thereabouts they made me swim naked. The instructor always warned us that if we ever forgot to bring our swimming trunks in that we would have to do this. I didn't really honestly believe they would enforce that, but they did. (Incidentally I also couldn't swim and was terrified of being drowned by the other kids.)

From that day forward, my swimming trunks did not go home to get washed; they stayed in my locker, soaking wet, and I didn't care how bad they smelled.

At 9:58 PM, Blogger Ms. Lori said...

Keith, that is absolutely heartbreaking. My god...
So sorry you had to endure that hell.

I spit on the memory of that bastard gym teacher. No, I take that back --
I POOP on his memory.

At 10:56 PM, Blogger AcouSvnt said...

There's always someone who has it worse. One kid was spotted by some other kids with an erection in the shower. His infamy lasted far longer -- excuse the pun -- than mine.

At 5:15 AM, Blogger purpleelephant said...

I've been trying to comment for a couple of days but I think blogger has been playing up. Turns out I have too much to say so have posted my response over at my blog. I'm totally agree with all you say about physical education and I'm up fo helping you shoot them all!


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