Who Needs PE Anyway?

Ah, here it is, Nate’s report card. I guess I shouldn’t call it a report card. The school labels it a “Fall Observation Checklist.” And he’s three, so none of it matters. It’s not his permanent record or anything. Colleges won’t ask about it. Kindergartens probably won’t even ask. It’s just feedback for parents, just a small window into his life at school. And they’re observations, not judgments.


It doesn’t mean I’m a bad mom. Nature trumps nurture anyway.


Okay, the comments section…”Nate has an engaging personality.” Obviously. Tell that to the poor man at the playground on Friday who spent nearly ten minutes trying to extricate himself from conversation with Nate so that he could spend quality time with his own child.


“…He enjoys preschool…yada, yada, yada…Nate is a delightful boy…blah, blah, blah…no conference needed.”


Phew! Of course, they love him—he’s such a good student.


Okay, the checklist.


“Separation? Well.” Yes, that’s definitely true. He sprints into that classroom like he’s crossing a finish line. He’s excited to be there and believes everyone else is super psyched that he’s there, too.


“Refuses direction—no check.” Yes! He’s always very obedient.


“Is kind, seems happy at school, plays well with peers—check.” Obviously. He’s the kid they pair with kids who are having ‘sad days’. Kindness is so important in this world!


“Hits/shows aggression—no check.” Of course not! Ugh, I’d be mortified!


“Circle/Large Group? Listens well—check.” Really? What’s your secret, Magical Preschool Teachers? When I presented my lecture on Veteran’s Day this week, he cut me off at the word “flag”—sentence #2—to tell me how funny his friend Scott is.


[Names have been changed to protect the innocent, though I’m sure the NSA knows exactly which classmates and teachers I’m referencing.]


“Shares information—check.” That worries me. His information is usually false. Like when he told the pediatrician that he got sick while his dad was making smoothies and the germs crawled into his body. I don’t think so, Dr. Oz. Or lately he’s been citing direct commands from God as his justification for any misbehaviors. Sorry, Nate, but I highly doubt that God told you to punch Sam in the jaw. This isn’t the Old Testament.


“Shares—check.” Shares? Like, shares toys? Or shares feelings? I saw him share raisins with Sam once. Because he hates raisins. With a passion.


“Interrupts—no check.” I wish he’d stop interrupting our adult conversation at dinner. Or me while I read bedtime stories! He comments on every single page!


“Recognizes and respects authority—check.” Well, I’m going to have to go ahead and disagree with you there. Courteously, of course.


“Keeps hands to self—check.” Ooh, with a small note: “Except with Scott.” Yeah, I knew about that. The teachers say it’s playful, brotherly.


“Transition? Adjusts well. And keeps playing.” Both boxes are checked. Yeah, I can see that. He’ll transition into the next activity if it’s something he wants to do. Like if it’s recess. Or snack. Or if they’re going to sit in a circle and talk about how great he is. But if it’s art, he’s going to go ahead and keep playing. Still, he should be conforming to classroom procedures. It’s okay, just preschool, I’m not worried.


Hmm, what’s that part that’s been covered with white-out? Was it just a pen smudge or a teacher’s attempt to reign in her uncontrollable frustration when she sees Nate’s name? I wonder if I can scratch it away…nope. What did she write?!


“Participates in P.E.—no check.” Really? This surprises me.


Are we sure? Maybe it’s an oversight.


Maybe the teacher just forgot to check that box? She was probably in a hurry to get to the weekend, just missed a pen stroke. Human error, it happens.


And don’t get me wrong—I am under no illusion that Nate is an athlete!


I mean I’ve always considered myself athletic. I’ve run successful 5K’s and 10K’s, I used to do twelve pull-ups without a break, and I was probably the best player on my BSSC co-ed football team. Plus, I played a little D-1 lacrosse in college. And Tighe—Nate’s father as far as anyone knows—tackled Darren Sproles on more than one occasion when they were in high school, playing football I presume. Or so he claims.


But Nate…hmm, how can I put this without saying he sucks? He just doesn’t seem to be an athlete.


He doesn’t even like to watch Sports Center—unless there’s a red team. If he wants to play with LEGO’s and do puzzles all day, that is fine with us. There’s a lot of money in engineering-related fields. Good for you, Nate. And it’s no big deal, it just means that he’s skipping bean-bag toss. Or hoola-hooping. Relay races? Those are stupid anyway. He could still get a swimming scholarship someday.


Never mind, swim lessons were a disaster this summer—he refused to even get in the pool some days. And then he’d take an eight-minute pee break. Maybe golf? Who am I kidding? Nate might be good enough for curling and nothing else. Oh, well.


No conference needed? What about P.E.?! Why doesn’t he participate in P.E.?


I don’t want to nitpick—this is all meaningless of course, but I should probably find out about that, right? An intervention will clear this up. I’m his mom. If I don’t advocate for him, who will?


I’m going to e-mail his teachers. Or maybe I should call one of them, I have their cell phone numbers. Maybe a text is better? Mrs. Baird lives a few blocks away. Maybe we can stroll by later. Casually, no agenda. And then after I ask about her weekend plans and talk about leaf raking—“What a never-ending chore, am I right?”—I’ll bring up P.E.


Then again, I’m not a helicopter parent, it’s just a meaningless checklist. And it’s Nate’s life, not mine. If he thinks he can get into kindergarten in two years with that blemish on his record, that’s his prerogative.


Sam, child #2, is probably our scholarship athlete anyway. As soon as he wakes up from his nap, I’ll have him practice his push-ups again. And run those wind sprints.