Remember when you made the jump from elementary school to middle school and recess became a class known as physical education?
I hear many high schools have gym class as little as twice a week if at all. Of course, we kids complained like crows about having to go down into the sweaty locker rooms and slip into a pair of shorts and a t-shirt (not even ones of our choice but ones we had to pay for). We whined about how unnecessary the whole concept of gym was.
Thinking back, however, gym class is where I did most of my physical activity in high school. It was where I socialized the most, even had some intimate conversations with friends and potential (always potential never realized) girlfriends. Gym class had some of the stupidest rules—you had to walk or run this many miles, your grade was contingent upon participation, which included donning the sacred shorts and t-shirt branded with the school mascot—I can’t tell you how many times my friends and I received deductions for not having our t-shirt or for wearing shorts other than the school appropriate wear. That was the stuff that made us hate gym class. Truly, however, we enjoyed the competition, the days when we got to go outside and play whichever sport we desired.
Enough nostalgia. This still doesn’t explain where recess went—well, maybe it does. Recess went from unadulterated, slightly chaperoned fun, on tire playgrounds with cedar chip bedding, to a mandatory course that has more to do with letting kids blow off steam rather than focus strictly on health and wellness. Now, people are capitalizing on recess. Putting aside equipment costs, memberships and league fees add up.
I digress. In fact, this whole blog is a digression and could benefit from some sound structure, but maybe today I just feel like dabbling in some free play—kind of roaming wherever I please. This leads me to my final thought. Recess is now also lunch. Living in Savannah, I take as much as my hour-long break as possible outside. Recess is not always physical, by the way. Remember the days it rained and you had to stay in the classroom? Teacher usually had a Tupperware bin of second-hand toys tucked away somewhere.
I read. Go for walks. I even (as drab as it sounds) run errands, which can be fun when it is made into a game of dodge the disrespectful cars while you ride around the city on your bike.
So, I implore you to think about your idea of recess and its current place in your life. Is it but a fond memory or some pigtailed girl on the monkey bars? Or is it your afternoon run when all the work is done and the weather is right and there is just enough light for the local park not to be sketchy yet?