Thursday, June 3, 2010

A Mixture of Sunscreen, Sweat, and Grime

We never had field day when I was a kid in school. The adult version of my middle school ego is pretty sure that field day would have been a bad thing. I was klutzy (still am and bruise like a grape), and Erika established that our family sweats. I don't even know if it could be called sweating for me. Our father still laughs at how red my cheeks get once the temperature gets above a certain level because those cheeks, so pink and rosy, turn red and nasty and almost hateful. Imagine any cartoon character that blows steam out of their ears . . . apply that to my cheeks. So field day as a 7th grader? I'm pretty sure that I would have hated it.

As a teacher, I always dread it, but once we get going, I absolutely love it. The kids are *gasp* kids for at least half a day. They run, they cheer, they get competitive with one another, they bond together to achieve a common goal. Our phys ed teachers do a fabulous job setting up activities that appeal to just about everyone. Our grade level teachers staff the events; we've been doing this for so many years that we all pick the same event and pretty much have it down to a science. My event? The water relay. Basically, you must transfer the water in one container to another container using only a sponge. Seems simple enough, but seventh graders aren't the most agile creatures. They tend to fall when rushing. Add water the mix . . . and they fall a lot. At the beginning of the event, the water is clear, pristine, full of vibrancy. By the end, it is muddy, almost chunky, bits of grass floating on the top. I'm not sure which bucket of water I prefer . . . the one with promise or the one with life. In many ways, the relay reminds me of my year with the kids I will soon pass on to another grade. They come to me as clean slates - they don't know me and I don't know them. They leave taking on so many of my phrases, gestures, and hopefully, skills. Next year, as 8th graders, some of these kids will pass me in the hall as if I were a perfect stranger, as if we never spent 180 days together learning vocabulary, writing techniques, and silly dances. Others will say hello or fist pump or beg to come back. Still others will never be seen again as they move on to other schools, towns, and in some cases, families.

I graded the last little bit of items that I have for the year. Stupidly, I did this after field day, sitting in my room with a thin layer of ickiness coating my body. My first thought on arriving  home was a shower, the kind that would literally blast the ooze on my arms off. Before that, however, I needed to remember field day one last time before the water buckets get replaced with that crystal clear water that is a new school year. I want to remember the bucket that is muddy and chunky and full of life.

Jill, who really and truly needs a shower


  1. For some reason when I was listening to this story in the car, I was sure you said that had to transfer the water with their mouth. I kept thinking, "What kind of school lets their kids do that?" This post clears it all up. Remember I was in a car & that car's A/C isn't the best.

    Shower, please.

  2. It took for what felt like hours to get the gunk off of me. But I didn't get a sunburn, which is always a bonus.

  3. Aw, I love the image of the two buckets. I also love when I hear my students use my phrases, some of which I know are from my own teachers...