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Sunday, February 06, 2011

What It Was, Was Football (And The Writing On The Wall)


[Editor's Note: This was written in 2006. Everything portended here has come to pass, in spades. Must be mildly depressing to be able to see these things so clearly]

(Author's Note: I'm not depressed. I'm depressing. That's different. And there is no editor)

When we went out to vote on November 7th, my wife and I had to drive by our son's elementary school. We were mildly amused to spy him, out for recess, playing football in the schoolyard with his classmates.

We parked across the street and watched for a few precious minutes. Since we were not a butterfly, or a jet contrail, or a candy wrapper, or a penny, he didn't notice us there, so we got to see him in that rarest of settings: "somewhere else," without his parents or guardians present.

The football activity was hilarious. It alternatingly resembled an algae bloom and an ayatollah's funeral-- first a kind of milling around in an amorphous blob, then a kind of wild melee over a leathery old totem. We watched them drift back and forth for a pleasant minute, with the odd missile launch of the forward pass rocketing rudderless out of the scrum and landing any old place but that most rarified of targets: a teammate.

It was wry to consider that playing tag is verboten at his school. I'm not joking.

The school is getting comical in this regard. They were terrified of the food the little ones were eating, so they tinkered endlessly with the school lunch menu to make it so healthy that no one purchased it anymore. Now everybody eats fluffernutters they bring themselves.

They built an elaborate and very expensive handicapped playground. That's a kind and thoughtful gesture. But it is merely a gesture, as there are no handicapped children to enjoy it. There just aren't that many children of any kind in a little town like ours.

And no tag. Someone could get hurt. Someone could be left out. Someone could sue is the real reason, and the powers that be always point that out right up front.

Tag isn't allowed, so one of the kids brings a football, and they play that. And football isn't banned, because no one thought of it yet. And the absurdity of allowing mobs of pre-teens to chase one another if one is holding a ball, but not if their hands are empty, seems to be lost on the school administration. At least for now. And I, for one, am glad of it.

I'm not as worried about my son being injured playing football as I am in contemplating the little straitjacket world he's being fitted for. Those children decided on the rules, supplied their equipment --a ball-- and played their game without any adult supervision; and I saw a lot less kvetching among them than at any organized sporting event they participate in. I'm leery of them being told that someone will always tell them exactly what to do, and simultaneously unerringly protect them from not only from harm, but hurt feelings. One aspect of that tandem of supervision is repugnant, and the other unlikely.

I'm living in a strange world where people for whom I have no regard draw finely calculated and ultimately meaningless distinctions about everything down to the scope of activities allowed for pedophiles to roam the earth, at the same time they ban children playing tag in the schoolyard. Such distinctions are meaningless because anyone who is prepared to commit a great offense is not concerned about the rules governing small ones.

I dread the day, which is on the horizon now, not over it, when I'm forced to tell my children that the only sensible course of action is to ignore the rules, as there are so many of them that they become gibberish. And what the hell, the rules only seem to apply to those who wish to live worthwhile lives anyway --who never needed them in the first place.

5 comments:

DaBear said...

Amen! and two Spot-on's!

It reminds me of way back in the day when the recess activity for boys was marbles. Aside from carrying a bag of marbles around, the occasional spat over taking the oppenents "toy", it was great fun. Today - I am sure it would be banned under the "zero tolerance" policy which is so popular in our enlightened society.
My 10 year old granddaughter refused to play on her class ball team when she was told " we don't keep score". Her reply " what's the point"?
Made me proud to know her mother is teaching her a large dose of common sense.

Declan said...

My oldest son recently told me tag was not allowed at his school. I thought he was kidding.

I encouraged him to play tag as often he likes during recess. If asked by a teacher which game he and his friends were playing, I suggested he come up with a new creative name for this exciting activity.

These people have lost their minds.

Jewel said...

Sane and sound advice, Sippican.

My child came home with an assignment to find ways to reduce her carbon footprint. Her science teacher is a global warming fanatic, and presents all the 'data' that had been fabricated as fact to the fartlings. So she comes home each night with a new story and we counter with the facts.

Actually, these exasperations in stupidity are quite enlightening, and we use them as a rigorous training for her mind.

For example:
Her work sheet said that using the computer expends a lot of energy and creates greenhouse gases. Use the internet to find out how to reduce your carbon footprint. And then, of course, ONLY the links provided were allowed to be 'used'.
Well, the kid fell off her butt laughing about the inconsistency of saying one thing and doing exactly the opposite, or what we rubes call 'hypocrisy'.

We then told her this:
Everything you are learning about 'climate change' is a manufactured hoax. Since all the data is made up, all your answers should be, too. Invent, be creative, use the same kind of deceptive terminology and then turn it in. Numbers, graphs, pie charts....pie charts should have pie in them I would think, are all fabrications. They aren't interested in seeing your brain work, they are only interested in you parroting back the party line.

H. Gillham said...

I loved this...

Such truth -- I spent 33 years in the public school classroom countering ideas brought on by people who go to too many "seminars" where the teaching is by Power Point.

Nuff said.

shoreacres said...

I've meant to comment on this a dozen times, but I keep hyperventilating and forget to type...

So. Two things. One is that when they think they've finished with our children, they will take the next step and attempt to turn all of us into children. This may already have begun, although there are signs of resistance.

The other is that Annie Dillard had their number years ago, when she wrote "Pilgrim at Tinker Creek" and said,

“There is always the temptation in life to diddle around making itsy-bitsy friends and meals and journeys for years on end. It is all so self-conscious, so apparently moral.

But I won’t have it. The world is wilder than that in all directions, more dangerous, more extravagant and bright. We are raising tomatoes when we should be raising Cain, or Lazarus.”


Indeed.