This week is the second week of March Break for many kids here in BC. Yes, you read that correctly. March break here is more of an extended holiday than a five-day hiatus from classes.
And to think years ago, I just wanted to be grown up.
Today’s daily trigger from Triggering Memories got me thinking about school and inspired me to revisit a time during the school day where the most important conversations took place: recess.
In the spring and fall, it was spent playing endless games of Red Rover, mastering the impossibly hard double-Dutch skipping game and playing man hunt on the playground. Those who came back to the classroom with gravel embedded in their palms from falling during an intense game of hide and seek were looked upon as playground heroes.
In the winter, recess meant building snowmen, catching snowflakes on our tongues and going down the slide at turbo speed because the slippery snow added extra horsepower.
If we were feeling brave enough, or perhaps just stupid enough, we’d stick our tongues to the soccer goal post to see if they would stick. On the days it didn’t, I was internally happy although I’d never say so to my friends. Half the fun was trying to figure out a way to get it unstuck without losing a few layers of skin. (We, like most fearless kids, did this more than once.)
Our playground at elementary school was massive and was rotated between several grades, depending on the day of the week. When it wasn’t our turn, we made use of the soccer fields, picnic tables, and baseball diamond, even if we were just playing imaginary ball. Homeruns were scored and grand slams were achieved that would have rivaled any Major League Baseball game – or so we believed.
On the days it was our turn to use the playground, we went down the slide with such speed, we could have flown across the entire school yard. We embraced our inner monkeys and scaled back and forth across the metal bars until our palms bled from the blisters. When we couldn’t make it across anymore, we looped our feet through the bars and hung upside down until all the blood rushed to our cheeks and we were forced to sit up again.
Recesses were also a time to strategize with friends: which boy looked the cutest today? Whose house were we going to sleepover at this weekend? What did we have for lunch?
For most of us, our problems were non-existent outside of what we were going to wear to school that morning and whether Mom and Dad would let us stay out just a little bit later tonight playing with friends. We were naïve and innocent enough to think everyone had it as good as we did all the while not truly understanding just how fortunate we were.
When I got to grade eight, I couldn’t wait to get to high school – at 14-years-old, recesses seemed juvenile. Something for little kids who still believed in Santa Clause and still had the benefit of youthful ignorance.
Recesses became cliquey and awkward for those whose intellect outgrew the pace of their friends, whose physical appearance made them stand out for one reason or another and whose wardrobes wore loved by someone else before they donned them.
For these kids, the 15-minute breaks started to drag on instead of flying by like they once had.
There were always a group of kids who had an opinion and, with the support of their friends standing behind them, would make comments to try and solidify their place in the playground hierarchy.
Oftentimes, the sub-zero temperatures were a warm comfort to the outliers next to the cold shoulder of their opinionated classmates.
While the school yard dynamics could be as unpredictable as the weather in the suburbs of Ontario, recess holds fond memories for my inner double-Dutching, hop-skotching, monkey bar-scaling playground star.