Friday, September 07, 2007

Small town elementary schoolyard observations

I'm making it a point this school year to spent at least one lunch a week with the girls at their respective schools.

At PK's school, parents are assigned a day to spend lunch with their child's class, then assist in supervising the kiddies on the playground. Mostly it's a lot of swing pushing, shirt pulling, merry-go-round spinning, tire swing toggling, and ball retrieving.

At C's school, playground duty is not assigned nor expected of a visiting parent. But a foolhardy parent who braves the after lunch recess crowds best be prepared for both extreme mental and physical challenges.

4 classes of 2nd graders, at 17-19 a class, many of which are wanting to show you what they can do on the monkey bars, screaming to see how high you can push them on the swing, and tossing any number of different rubber-based balls at you, hoping to get a game started - can be intimidating.

And this is at a small town school.

The sheer number of school kids descending on the play yard at one time forced me to think on my toes and channel some crowd control techniques osmosified into my brain from too many viewings of "The Dirty Dozen," "Heartbreak Ridge," "Full Metal Jacket," among other films of the basic training/boot camp genre.

Divide and Conquer
First I head to the swings. Sure, it's a gut busting working to get a dozen tykekins into the full swing of things, but there are a finite number of pendular seated apparatuses and those that are without, usually leave the scene. Only caveat here is to make sure your own kid is one of them who gets a swing. Otherwise, the plan backfires and you have to convince your own offspring that waiting for an open swing is a good lesson in patience building skills (right).

Better to lead than to follow
Follow the leader is a good game to play with a mass of rug rats, however if taken to an extreme length of time, the line will fall apart, and you may soon find yourself surrounded by a mob of followers, rather than a neat, Soul Train line.

Spartan's never retreat, and never surrender
Announcing that you need to take a bathroom break, when in fact you just want to get away from the kids, will only draw ridicule and jokes aplenty from the peanut gallery. Best to find a bench to sit down on, grip your chest in pain, drool, cough, and have a simulated heart attack than to invite the ere of bathroom themed taunts from 7 year olds.

Do as I say, not as I do
According to this website, the largest game of Simon Sez took place in China and started with 597 participants.

I bet it was just some Chinese parent visiting his kid's school for lunch and needed to figure out a way to control the hordes.

My own brand of Simon Sez involves full motion (Simon Sez run over to Cole Wilson and stare at his shoes!), lightning fast reactions (Simon Sez touch your cheek [while placing hand on chin]), grossology practitioning (Simon Sez burp as long and loud as you can!), and innocent bystander participation (Simon Sez run over and say "Hi" to Mrs. Lacey!)

It was a hit and by the time the whistle blew and it was time to line up, I had over 80 kids following my every Simon Sez command.

My final command? Simon Sez line up in your class lines while singing "Oklahoma!"



flintysooner said...

I liked this one very much.

tuesday said...

Oh, I want to be there on the day you do playground duty! :)

Kids are definitely a tough crowd. I prefer them in bunches of 4 or less myself. Otherwise, I wind up feeling like I did back in elementary school when we were playing dodge ball. I really thought I was gonna outgrow this by