ysabetwordsmith: Damask smiling over their shoulder (polychrome)
[personal profile] ysabetwordsmith
This poem was written outside the prompt calls. It was inspired by the "sports and games" square in my 9-29-14 card for the [community profile] origfic_bingo  fest. It has been sponsored by an anonymous donation. This poem belongs to the Danso & Family thread in the Polychrome Heroics series.


"Running Rings"

 


In Special Interests,
Lakia was restless and
kept moving around the room.

"You're running rings around us today,
Mr. Keaner said.

"I guess," Lakia said,
tapping her foot on the floor.

"Mrs. Wilson tells me that you
try to pick things up with your tail,"
said Mr. Keaner.

Lakia hunched down.
People were always telling her
not to do that, although
Mrs. Wilson wasn't one of them.
"Sometimes it works," she muttered.

"It's okay," Mr. Keaner said.
"Your mother mentioned that you
like your little brother's stacking rings."

"Yeah, but they're wood," Lakia said.
"They're kind of heavy, and the holes are small."

"Do you think you might do better
with some other rings?" Mr. Keaner asked.
"We could go look in the gym closet,
put your energy to good use."

So they went to the gym,
where bigger kids were playing,
and Mr. Keaner pulled out
a whole box of stuff
to take to the cafeteria.

First he took out some rubber gym rings.
Lakia couldn't even get her tail around one.
"Way too heavy," she said, shaking her head.

Next came a set of medium-weight rings
along with stubby little elephants.
"You throw the rings over the trunk
of an elephant in the matching color,"
Mr. Keaner explained.

Lakia could pick up the rings
but had a hard time throwing them.
"My aim sucks," she grumbled.

"Your aim could use practice,"
Mr. Keaner said.

There were even lighter rings
meant to be thrown over tall cones.

Lakia could carry several of those at a time,
and her aim was only a little better,
but the rings went farther.
"These are kind of cool," she said.

"Try to catch this," said Mr. Keaner,
tossing her something that looked like
a frisbee with a hole through the middle.

Lakia missed, but had fun chasing it.

"Maybe later," Mr. Keaner said.
"Here, I think these will roll along the floor."
They were stacking rings, but flat,
with grooved edges to help them fit together.

They did indeed roll well, and Lakia
scampered back and forth
running rings down until finally
she managed to hook one
with the tip of her tail.
"I did it!" she crowed.

Mr. Keaner clapped.  "Well done,"
he said.  "You paid close attention
to hunt down that ring."

"Yeah," Lakia said.
"It really wanted to get away!"

Mr. Keaner rummaged in the box
one more time, bringing out
some floppy rubber rings.
"These are supposed to be
really easy to catch and hold,"
he said.  "Get your tail up,
and I'll try to toss one right to you."

It took a few tries,
but then Lakia caught one.
She wrapped her tail around it,
dancing in a little circle.

Then she flopped onto the ground.
"My stupid tail is too tired to keep going."

"Your tail isn't stupid, Lakia,
it's just worn out because
you worked really hard.
You need to work if you want
to develop its full potential,"
Mr. Keaner said as he started
gathering up the different rings.
"Come help me put these back in the box."

Lakia helped box up the rings.
"These were fun," she said.

"Which ones were your favorites?"
Mr. Keaner asked.  "We can put
their names in the Accomplishment Report,
and maybe your mom will buy you some for home."

"The floppies and the roll-around flat ones,"
Lakia said, "but I don't get stuff."

"Hmm," said Mr. Keaner.  "Think about it.
Is that from before you came here,
or after you came here?"

Lakia thought about it.
There had been the jump ropes,
which hadn't been bought new
but were for her and Hadyn to play with.

She'd gotten some new pants too,
with all the butts done special
to fit around her tail so that she
didn't have to stuff it down one leg.

"Mostly before," Lakia said.
"I guess ... maybe I could ask."

So they wrote up the Accomplishment Report,
which kept track of what students did
in the Special Interests class.

When Lakia showed it off at home,
Hannah said, "Wow, it looks like
you made some progress with your tail!
That deserves a reward.  Which would you like,
the flexirings or the stacking rings?"

Lakia thought about it some more.
"Stacking rings," she said.
"The floppy ones are easier to hold,
but the stackers can be played with
more different ways."

"Stackers it is," Hannah said,
and she sat right down at her computer
to order a set of them, like it was nothing.

Or like Lakia deserved them,
even if it was something.

Lakia wasn't sure how she felt about that,
but she got all warm and wiggly inside,
so maybe it was good.

* * *

Notes:

Children have difficulty sitting still because they need to move in order to develop their physical skills properly.  Children with high kinesthetic intelligence, like Lakia, need educational movement even more.  If you want them to sit still, you must let them move first, and then study after their bodies feel quiet. 

Personal projects in grade school or later help students learn to choose and pursue their own interests.  Recording the results makes it easier to see and remember progress.  The Accomplishment Report is just a few questions asking what the student studied and learned, which helps answer parents' questions about "What did you do in school today?"

Nathaniel has a set of wooden stacking rings, although they are more often made from plastic.

Heavy rubber throwing rings are meant to be tossed and caught in a variety of games.

Elephant and cone ring toss games teach precision.

Flying rings are similar to frisbees, but can go farther and are easier to catch.

These plastic rings are made for stacking, but also roll nicely.

Flexirings are floppy toss-and-catch rings that don't hit as hard and are easier to catch compared to the heavy, solid throwing rings.

Practice is an important part of the learning process for any new skill.  Know how to practice effectively.  At this stage, Mr. Keaner is mostly helping Lakia play around to see what she wants to learn and what tools might be helpful -- but you can see him laying the groundwork for the idea that if she really wants to do anything useful with her tail, she'll have to work at it.

dialecticdreamer: My work (Default)
From: [personal profile] dialecticdreamer
And you are /absolutely/ right about giving kids plenty of big-muscle play. I actually picked out the oldest's first grade teacher /because/ he was willing to get the kids up and moving in between /every/ academic task, which was unusual at the time, and nearly unheard of now.

I love that she's /not/ aware of how much she's changed, just by being willing to ask, rather than holding to the assumption that it's not worth asking because the answer is always 'no.'

(no subject)

Date: 2014-10-29 10:36 pm (UTC)
stardreamer: Meez headshot (Default)
From: [personal profile] stardreamer
I like it that Mr. Keaner doesn't let her put herself down. "Your aim could use practice." "Your tail isn't stupid, it's just worn out." But he doesn't scold her either, he just rephrases the comment to a version that's not self-deprecatory. Done consistently, that sort of thing is a good way to keep the Goddamn Tapes* from getting a foothold.

* In one of my online communities, that's what we call the self-shaming voice in the back of your head that keeps telling you how worthless you are. Because it's usually the result of having internalized shaming things that other people have said to/about you, so that now they're like a tape running on infinite loop in your brain.

(no subject)

Date: 2014-10-30 02:59 am (UTC)
mdlbear: (happy-turtle)
From: [personal profile] mdlbear
Yes -- correcting bad self-talk is *so* important, and this is the right way to do it. Well done!

Re: Thank you!

Date: 2014-10-30 05:57 pm (UTC)
stardreamer: Meez headshot (Default)
From: [personal profile] stardreamer
I had one good gym teacher. ONE. In 12 years of elementary and secondary school. Most of the others were not memorably bad, but there was also one who was actively awful (and who wasn't there the following year -- I think she got crosswise of too many parents plus the school counselors). Is there a rateyourteachers.com for high schools like there is for colleges?

Re: Thank you!

Date: 2014-10-30 06:38 pm (UTC)
stardreamer: Meez headshot (Default)
From: [personal profile] stardreamer
She actually did grade you on effort rather than ability, for one thing. I'd always made Cs and Ds in gym because I'm not athletic (mostly I scraped by on acing the written tests), but in her class I got Bs and the occasional A-.

For our gymnastics unit, she did something I've never seen anywhere else. There were 5 skill areas: trampoline, balance beam, uneven parallel bars, mats, and the horse. Next to each one, she posted a list of routines to be performed and what grade each one would get, and then let us decide where we wanted to put in our efforts. For me, that meant the trampoline was an easy A, the bars a fairly easy A-, I hated the horse and was content with the C routine there, the balance beam I could work up to B without getting into anything that really scared me, and I spent almost all of my effort on mastering a headstand for the B+ routine on the mats. And every single day she came by, while I was working on that, with a word of encouragement. She and the nightmare teacher are the only ones I remember 40 years later.

(no subject)

Date: 2014-11-01 04:40 pm (UTC)
technoshaman: Tux (Default)
From: [personal profile] technoshaman
Hmmmm, I shall have to remember this.

(no subject)

Date: 2014-11-09 06:22 pm (UTC)
lynnoconnacht: (Default)
From: [personal profile] lynnoconnacht
This was so sweet and cute and then BAM that ending and now I am in utter tears because a) so beautiful, b) so sad, c) tiny glimmer of things starting to get better.

<3

Re: Thank you!

Date: 2014-11-10 09:05 am (UTC)
lynnoconnacht: (Default)
From: [personal profile] lynnoconnacht
Oh, I know they are. ^_^ But Lakia's still reads like she needs to adjust a lot herself. You can fix the circumstances someone is in a lot faster than you can heal and fix the damage that's already been done, after all, and there's always a chance that there's a bit that's already too damaged to adjust wholly. (I hope not, but the chance is still there.)

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