Gym Class

I had intended to write a post about a little community park we found in Erie, Pa., but instead I’m writing about gym class.

This morning I watched my granddaughter do gym online. She didn’t move for 45 minutes.

Grace goes back to full-time, in-person school next week. She can’t wait to see her friends and get back to some semblance of normal. I can’t either.

Joe and I are back living in her family’s basement for the week. We’re supervising Grace and Charles as they attend class online. Charles doesn’t go back until Nov. 16, just in time for the Thanksgiving break.

This morning Grace sits on a chair pulled to the kitchen table. She sits like a frog with her knees up by her ears. She’s early for online class. There’s a note from her teacher. She’s going to be late. The younger students are already in school and she’s supervising the morning arrival chaos.

Ten minutes later the teacher shows up online. The class does the Pledge of Allegiance. The teacher begins reminding students when they need to be online when Grace’s computer decides to update. Five minutes later she was back online, having missed some announcements.

Now it’s time for a “special,” gym.

Up front let me say I have a lot of respect for teachers, including gym teachers who get a bad rap. I know in your mind you hear a big “but” coming. Here it is.

This teacher took 20 minutes to get a video about soccer skills online. She explained that she was on a different computer. She works in different buildings and for some reason the computer in this building wasn’t working with her video.

 Grace played with her hair.

 Finally catchy music started. The video glitched. The kids offered ways to fix it. I glanced over Grace’s shoulder at the screen showing a ball between two feet. It was a demonstration of soccer footwork.

Teaching soccer, online.

When the video finished the teacher suggested students practice their footwork, in the house. Those of you who know how can juggle the ball practice your skills, she suggested. Or you can turn a laundry basket on its side and shoot balls into it.

Of course you need your parents’ permission, she added.

I heard a chorus of mothers’ voices in my head: “Don’t play ball in the house!”

If you want you can go down to the basement, or go outside to practice, the teacher suggested. The kids point out it’s 30 degrees outside this morning.

Grace doesn’t have a soccer ball. She doesn’t play soccer and neither does her brother.  She sat watching as the one or two students already on teams practice.

The teacher, meanwhile ate an Egg McMuffin, drank coffee, munched a donut and had a sports drink, according to Joe who was watching the screen.

This a teacher Grace likes. I don’t want her not to like her.

I have a very readable face, which I’m trying to keep neutral. Inside I’m thinking how unprofessional. This isn’t teaching the kids anything about exercising or being healthy.

Grace tells me that last year when they had class the teacher often drank coffee and talked with other teachers while the students were doing drills or exercising. Teachers go to work early and they have to eat breakfast at school, she says.

The teacher plays another video. This time the kids are supposed to exercise. Some kids do planks, some do jumping jacks. I suggest Grace exercise. No one else is exercising, she says continuing to play with her hair.

The video ends. We’re going to be together for class next week, the teacher says. We’ll have to be socially distanced. What activities would you like to do, she asks.

The kids suggest they have a shoot out or play games with balls or hula hoops. They could bring in their own equipment to be safe, they tell the teacher.

The teacher puts the kibosh on that. I don’t think the principal will allow you to bring your own equipment. We can’t use the school’s equipment because I’d have to disinfect it between each class, she says.

Joe, Grace and I look at each other.

Why can’t she give the students spray bottles filled with disinfectant and have them wipe down the equipment, Grace asks us. We saw some bottles at Lowe’s for $1 a piece, she says.

The class ends. Grace has a break between classes.

She puts on her jacket and heads out to her swing. She’s out in the fresh air pumping her legs for 20 minutes before returning to the computer for class.

Later today we’ll probably ride bikes to the school playground. Grace will climb the wrong way up the slides. She’ll scamper up the climbing wall and hang on the monkey bars. 

That will be her gym class.

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