A lesson learned during recess

Published 5:44 pm Tuesday, October 13, 2015

It was an almost universal answer way back then for the child who was asked “What is your favorite subject in school?” Which of the three “R’s” do you like most? Reading? ‘Righting? ‘Rithmatic?

Amazing that as I ponder my answer, I realize that the question I have just asked about my elementary school education includes two misspelled words! It’s a wonder I survived.

Actually, neither of those three subjects could compare with my favorite subject in grammar school. Are elementary schools still known as “grammar” schools? You may remember grammar school as that school you had to walk ten miles to attend. Uphill, both ways.

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My favorite subject did start with an “R,” but wasn’t a part of the three “R’s.” It was recess!

These days when I ask a child “What games do you play at recess?” the child looks at me as if I mentioned that the moon is really made of green cheese. I am so “past it.”

Recess. I think kids still have recess, although it might be somewhat different from the one I remember. Mine consisted of games like baseball and football and I don’t remember too much supervision.

There was one time when we did have supervision. Our “phys-ed” teacher was the pitcher for both teams in a softball game between the sixth and seventh grades. I was in the sixth grade and played first base.

Up to bat came one of the bullies of the seventh grade. We had bullies back in those days and I’m not saying teachers did not care. But, it was almost as if one had to learn (all by himself) how to handle the bully. It wasn’t fair, but the only fair that we knew was the one that came to the county in the fall and brought with it a Ferris wheel.

I’m playing first base and the bully hits a grounder to second. The bully will be out by a mile, as we say. I took the throw and he was out except for the fact that he went out of his way to run completely and violently over me. It knocked the wind out of me and really hurt. But, I held on to the ball.

The “phys-ed” teacher saw everything and called the bully out. Even though I was hurting, I tried my best not to show anything except my tremendous satisfaction that the bully was out and there was nothing he could do to change that.

All the bully could do was take his sorry attitude and his bullying back to the bench. He was out. I felt I had won, but didn’t realize just how much I had won.

I had won a new confidence in myself. I had played fairly and within the rules of the game. He had used what he thought was superior strength to change the outcome. He had lost and I had won. That was a great lesson for me.

I don’t know whatever happened to that bully. I abhor bullying and think it should be stopped in its tracks when it is known. Our children must be protected from bullies.

At the same time, there are times when our children have to learn the reality of life. Our children need the three “R’s” as much as ever. They also need those times when games are played and confidence is gained in playing them. It’s a tough world when one is ten years old and there are bullies.

It doesn’t get any easier and bullies hardly ever go away.