Physical Education

In high school we were required to participate in a sport. I chose tennis because it had the least amount of running – or movement of any kind the way I played. After running out of excuses to tell the head of the P.E. department as to why I couldn’t run the 4 laps around the court, I ended up relying on one tried-but-true one: “my ovaries hurt”…

P.E. is the only subject in school that I ever got less-than-excellent grades in. In elementary school the check marks ran in a straight line down the “excellent” column until abruptly jumping halfway across the page to “satisfactory” under gym class. In high school I nearly couldn’t graduate because of my incomplete in P.E. – but it wasn’t MY fault that theater rehearsals were scheduled for the same period. And I knew myself well enough to know in which subject I had the best chance at excelling…

Futhermore, I had been traumatized years earlier at my private K-8 school. Every year we were required to participate in some sort of state-wide physical health test, the most horrifying of which was the “fat test.” It’s one of my most painful memories. The entire class sat on the gymnasium floor watching as one after one we were called to the front where the P.E. teacher would measure our fat make-up with what can only be described as giant fat tweezers. My best friends were the thin, beautiful WASPs I always wanted to be, and I’m sure it surprised no one that these tweezers were able to gather much larger amounts of arm and thigh fat on me. And everyone saw. And the numbers were then quietly recorded by the teacher and send home in our report cards…

Runner-up in traumatic P.E. experiences was the mile run we had to participate in every year. I spent the entire year dreading this day. The walk with my class down to the park along Lake Shore Drive felt like a death march. Most kids easily ran around the track, finishing in under 10 min. Then there were those kids cool and confident enough not to care – they walked. And then there was me, trying my best to keep up, circling the totem pole ever so slowly, dreading each step.

Published by imworriedmytherapisthatesme

I'm a history-PhD-turned-stay-at-home-mom of three. When I'm not microwaving Trader Joe's meals for my kids, breaking up fights and wiping butts, I like to paint and write. To cope with the endless hours I'm spending with my son doing virtual school, I've abandoned my gouache paints for the more portable, less messy tried but true, paper and ink. While he learns to read to 20 floating heads on his screen, I sit on a tiny chair, at a tiny table pretending to be a productive adult.

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