Ruining Recess

Imagine working somewhere where, every single time anyone filed some dumbass complaint, a new rule was made that applied to everyone. “Angela twisted her ankle last week, so now we can only wear flats. And Tim stubbed his toe this morning, so starting tomorrow all the chairs will be replaced with yoga balls.” That’s my kids’ school. There are so many rules I can’t even keep track…and I’m pretty sure I break, like, six of them every time I volunteer. Sure I might palm my kid a forbidden toy just to spice things up but hey, a girl needs entertainment.

some good advice from the old country

Great-Grandma explaining the “rules of recess” to a young Whiskey. Ah, those were the days.

Recess alone has so many rules I’m starting to suspect that the yard duties are just making them up on the spot to make their jobs easier.

I mean, it’s pretty hard to stop kids from having fun, but damned if they’re not gonna try. I’ve seen a class full of kids miss an entire break because they are being too squirrely in the line to go to recess. Apparently, amped up kids are now expected to achieve a zen-like level of stillness before they can be released into the out of doors for moderately supervised dervishing. You know what I require before I kick my kids out of the house? The exact opposite of that. It’s when the pent up energy of too-much-thinking comes bubbling to the surface that you’re supposed to scream “Get the hell out of the house and climb a tree or something!”

Not that they can climb trees. Not sure most of them would know how. The last recess I saw was just a group of kindergartners running frantically from one side of the yard to the other trying to find the elusive “fun” before their allotted time was up. They can’t play tag, because that involves contact and there’s no touching at recess. Or excessive running. Or noise. Or joy. Lord forbid you try to take a soccer ball onto the grass. The grass is off limits.

“Sorry kids, no more laughter today, Miss Gruntle’s got a hangover.”


“If you think about it, standing in line IS kind of a life skill. In a way, we’re helping…”

There are a lot of times I tell my kids they have no idea how good they have it, but school is not one of those times. In my day, we learned (significantly) less and played more and the yard duties were just there to guide you to the nurse when another game of tag ended in tragedy and a call home. Tragedy still strikes, of course. Anyone who has kids knows all the rules in the world won’t keep them from braining themselves or knocking out someone’s teeth just out of pure, unadulterated goofiness.

Oh, but they DO try, don’t they?

Pretty sure the ladies running the show these days are using Pink Floyd’s The Wall as an instruction manual. The kids all think this is perfectly normal, of course. I mean, really, how can you have any pudding if you don’t eat yer meat!? I’m sure the teachers enjoy the challenge of getting back 25 kids who were supposed to be exhausting themselves in the fresh air but instead spent 20 minutes huddled in a line waiting for the ADHD kid to achieve perfect stillness so they might be allowed the opportunity to skip about politely or play a nice game of hoop and stick.

Though I did see a five year old nearly get brained by a tether ball, so it’s nice to see not everything has gone to hell. You just can’t stop chaos.


2 thoughts on “Ruining Recess

  1. Back in the day, we used to broker fights during recess. We would match one kid with another then convince them to beat each other up. It was marvelous fun – but after a while it got boring, so my buddy Stan began setting up fights between groups of kids. This was back in the day when every family had at least twelve of them and the host of kids on the playground numbered in the thousands (no kidding).

    At the height of this folly, he had half the playground swinging their fists at the other half. I worry about a world where this is not a possibility.

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