The things you learn

when you actually listen to your kids.

Not that I don’t listen to them, but sometimes their chatter is sorta like a muzak soundtrack to my life.  My ears pick up specific words and phrases, which maybe are uttered on a higher ‘for parents only’ frequency–words like money (usually in a sentence expressing need), take the train into the city, test tomorrow, etc.

Anyways, the big rule chez Sato is not to surprise Mom.  I don’t want calls or emails from teachers or parents informing me of something my kid did or didn’t do.  I want to hear it from the kid him or herself.  I might not be happy with the news, but I want the news straight from the horse’s mouth.  The reward for playing by the rule is that I won’t fly off the handle when I hear the news (from the child).  I’ll save the anger (if any), frustration, etc. for afterwards (after processing all the information).

Yesterday I got an email from Thing 2’s gym teacher.  Telling me Thing 2 is in danger of failing gym for lack of participation.

I don’t doubt this for a minute.  Thing 2 isn’t sporty.  She doesn’t like groups.  She has a hard time being enthusiastic in big groups.  She hates balls. I’m also not sure if she’s even got a set of gym clothes.  I mean, I know I bought some for her.  Haven’t seen them since September.

Gym participation at Thing 2’s high school means “change for gym.”  So I promptly write back to the teacher, asking “does she change her clothes?”

The reply: “yes.”

Now I’m frustrated.  I hate silly back-and-forth emails–give me more information.  If she’s failing because she’s not participating, how is she not participating (given that participation means changing into gym clothes)?

Reply: She changes her clothes, but then talks in class and doesn’t do the activity.

I am floored.  My obstinate daughter is changed, is actually wearing the gym clothes, but won’t play?  She’s 5’1″ and weighs 100 lbs.  Pick her up and make her play! I’m at a loss as to how to reply–um, I guess this is why teaching’s hard–figuring out how to motivate all your students, not just the ones with a particular talent in the subject you teach.

I write back to the teacher that she had my permission to read Thing 2 the riot act.

At dinner, I bring up the subject to Thing 2, mostly expressing my displeasure about the rule-breaking surprise.   Thing 2 is also surprised.  Turns out the gym teacher has been in Florida with the softball team for over a week and hasn’t been in gym to even evaluate Thing 2’s performance (or lack thereof).  Also turns out that Thing 2 is trying to participate, but for the past month, they’ve been playing volleyball in gym, and Thing 2’s team is wicked tall.  So tall that no one sees her meager jumping skills. But, and this is the best, it also appears as gym class is particularly tough, because most of the other students in Thing 2’s gym class were not able to get into AP Gym…

Yes, you heard correctly…AP Gym. As in “advanced placement gym.”

It’s amidst all these excuses that that parenting frequency started to go crazy–is AP Gym the bizarro world name for the gym class made up of  all the super smart kids who suck at gym, or the kids who are just really good at gym?  Nope.  It’s a serious class.  It’s for kids who are too good for Honors Gym.  (yes, there’s an Honors Gym, too).

So, Thing 2’s excuse for doing badly in gym is that she’s being held to AP Gym standards, when she’s actually only in regular gym.

It’s at this point that I think my fever returned and my mind clouded over.  I told her she had a valid argument, but that’s one battle she’d have to fight on her own.

We’ll see how that turns out.






  1. I’m floored — AP gym? Wow! The notion of “Honors Gym” seems strange to me, but I can understand that some kids are just going to be outstanding at gym/sports. (I never was, so I just suffered with all the great athletes jumping all around me). Is there a written test at the end of AP Gym? So wild.

  2. Oh my goodness…the world has gone mad! Here gym is graded but then the grade doesn’t count for all the critical averages, which is always a shame as it’s pretty much the best subject for all my kids!!

  3. That is the nuttiest thing I have ever heard. And I thought it was crazy that my 9th grader was getting a C in gym since he hadn’t handed in the homework. Who has written homework in gym? And I was the worst gym student in the world and managed to never get a C.

    On another note, I love that you pretty much told the teacher she could do whatever she wanted to make your daughter participate…when aforementioned son’s second grade teacher called me in to ask what I thought we should do when he kept calling out, she seemed shocked when I said she could do pretty much anything she wanted (except hit him or curse at him, obviously) to make him behave. I don’t think she got that answer to often form other parents!

    • OMG! I don’t even think AP gym has written homework! I’m so glad I’m no longer in high school–too much stress.

      It’s such a fine line, and there are two sides to every story, but nine times out of 10, I’m going to have the teacher’s back. Unless it’s really obvious that my kids are in the right. Which is usually never.

  4. AP Gym?!?! Honors Gym???? Is that what my daughter is in for when she gets to HS? At the moment they are graded for participation…but it does not matter how well they do at all. They do have certain activities they have to do for a baseline measure and later in the year … like running a mile, push-ups, sit-up that kind of thing. And they compare later in the year…but it’s not graded on wether you improve..but if you try. (They do have some written test they take concerning health too.)

    But … why would a gym class be graded on how well you do?

    Still it might be you need more information to figure out what is really going on?

    • This whole gym thing is perplexing beyond belief. I told Thing 2 she’s just gotta suck it up and try. Sad (but funny) thing is, she’d be good at it if she just put a modicum of effort into it.

      • *smiles* … that you push her in this…I will remember this for when I have to do this for my daughter….tis hard to not take their sides….but sometimes it is good to let them work though things themselves. I am still learning this too. Thank you *smiles*

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