Ropeclimbing: An Elementary School Torture Technique

In elementary school in the late 70s and early 80s, we were required to climb the rope that was hanging from the rafters in the gym.

Rope-climbing day was my own particular nightmare.

Some students could fly up to the top.  I, however, couldn’t make it five inches off of the ground.

I remember walking into the gym and seeing that bastardly rope trailing out of the sky like a giant, evil, hand-cutting snake.

I remember wishing I would’ve known so I could have stayed home that day.

I remember hating the gym teacher who was constantly swinging their whistle around and around. Swish, swish.

I remember praying for a fire drill, a tornado drill, or even an earthquake.

I remember pretending to listen to the vague directions from the wind-pants teacher.

I remember waiting in the line while each and every kid attempted the rope nightmare.

I remember perspiring so much that my hands felt clammy, much like rubber cement.

I remember staring up to the top wondering what this proved to the world.

I remember getting on the monster rope and not moving up an inch.

And, I remember walking away from the horrible rope with my head held down.

Sadly, this was how one was judged.  Gym class was it’s own sort of hell on Earth.  And, quite possibly, a hideous, horrible rite of passage.

Recently, I asked my now fourth-grader what his favorite class was this year.

His answer? Gym class.

I do so hope he is better at rope-climbing than I was.

Even the picture makes me feel a little nauseous.

Even the picture makes me feel a little nauseous.

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Field Day is the new Hunger Games

As an elementary kid, I was never too excited about field day.  According to my dad, I was a bit of a girly girl (still am!).

I’d rather be hanging with the daisies.

If there was an event in daisy chain necklace making, I would have won the gold.  If there was an event in skipping while singing, I would have been given a trophy.  If there was an event in twirling in circles until falling down dizzy, I would have received a first place ribbon.  Sadly, none of these options were available when I was in school.

We did have sack potato races, balloon tosses, one-legged races and egg/spoon races.  Those were fun.

At Squishy and String Bean’s school, their field day was much different.  Gone were the sack potatoes.  Vanished were the balloon tosses.  Abandoned were the eggs and spoons.  All were replaced by Olympic style battles fit for Odysseus and a slew of Titans. Or Katniss, her faithful Peeta and all of the psycho warriors from District 1.

Kid’s organized sports have nothing on Field Day.

As for preparing for the exclusive Field Day, there has been extensive training in gym class.  For the last month (I am not kidding) there have been time trials, practice races, and even qualifying heats.  With all of the suspense surrounding the day, both dudes were anxious and a little concerned about their events.  Who can blame them?  Training for the summer Olympics sounds vaguely similar to the festivities known as Field Day.

“Mom, you have to pack us water bottles for field day tomorrow.  It is going to be hot and we may get dehydrated,” he stated as if he was a pediatrician.

“OK.  Gotcha.  Anything else you need to get through these mighty games?” I asked, without a hint of sarcasm.

“We need to bring our best to the field,” he said.  I wondered if I let him watch Percy Jackson too often.

Field Day is serious business.

Next year’s Field Day dress code.

Prior to the start of the extreme games fun, as all of the students are gathered outside gripping their water bottles, an announcement came on the PA informing the students of the intricate procedures.  Maybe all of the important items were scattered around the cornucopia or something.

The static voice resembled something like, “Happy Hunger Games! And may the odds be ever in your favor.” Oops – not really.  More like, “Off to the races we go!”

And, with that, String Bean and Squishy were both sacrificed for the games.

The lone ribbon.

After school, there were long faces.  There was only one ribbon given to my dudes.  It was the magical Participation ribbon that only first and second graders receive.  Wise fourth grade String Bean, tired from the exhausting day and discouraged from being ribbonless, dismissed himself to the basement to play on the iPad.  His parting words as he melted down the steps were of the final PA announcement that said, “Congratulations to the winners, and better luck next year to everyone else.”

Squishy lagged behind and, in his first grade humor, regaled tales of his success in the tug-of-war.

“Did you get a ribbon for tug-of-war?” I asked him.

“Nope.  But we were the champs!” he exclaimed, “And I was the reason we won because I was in the back of the line and used my massive muscles to pull the other side down.”

Triumph.

“Why didn’t you get a ribbon?” I inquired.

“Hmmm,” he pondered, “We really didn’t need a ribbon.  Our teacher told us we were awesome and gave us a hug.  That was better than a stupid ribbon,” he said with a big smile on his face.

“I agree, Squishy, I agree.”

Until next year when the games resume again.

True triumph.  Almost better than a daisy chain necklace.  May the odds ever be in your favor.