Friday, October 24, 2008

The Yard

The guards are armed. There is much arguing and fighting and yelling. There is defiance. The amount of exercise time is limited. There is solitary confinement.

Welcome to the world of the school's playground, which is appropriately called "the yard" by the inmates students and the guards yard duty supervisors. A few of the Yard Duty -- as we are called -- are paid. Most are like me, parents volunteering a shift or two during the week to supervise the kids playing at morning recess and lunch recess.

There are no teachers supervising the yard. No, their contracts dictate that they are entitled to the two breaks. So while the students run around like wild things, the teachers hang out in the teacher's lounge or, at lunch, travel off for a quick bite. [Here's hoping no emergency ever happens on a Friday afternoon, when most of the teachers are off-site for lunch.]

We're armed with whistles and, particularly in my case, the talent of projecting my voice far across the acres of playground: the blacktop with its basketball, tetherball, four square and hopscotch; the play structure; the two baseball fields. Kids can hear me bellow wherever they are. [I knew those many years doing theatre in high school would have a benefit.]

The most egregious offenders -- those hitting or kicking other kids and the like -- are benched for periods of time. Those who act up in class bring bench slips with them, handing them over to a Yard Duty and doing their time in solitary confinement. As a kid, I'd have been horribly embarrassed to have been benched. My three kids would be mortified as well to find themselves on the bench. My experience on the yard, though, is the kids who are benched don't really give a shit. Some of the "frequent flyers" seem to prefer the bench. For a few, it's their signature activity; for some, it's likely where they feel most comfortable, away from the other kids.

I'm a mini-celebrity around town, as little kids will whisper, "She's a Yard Duty," as they walk by with their parents in a store or downtown. I try not to hear "duty" sound too much like dog "doody." Ah, but we Americans have that knack for making every "t" contained within a word sound like a "d."

7 comments:

Lori said...

I admire your tenacity at maintaining this position as a "yard duty". I tried it once, but I never knew when it was appropriate to scold the kids. What was ok, what wasn't? Mind you, this is middle school, and many of the kids are taller than I am. Maybe after reading this, I'll give it another shot. Miss you!

Tara R. said...

You said 'duty' hehehe. I admire any parent willing to take on that volunteer job. Little kids, especially that many congregated in one place, scares me.

Vikki said...

I'm impressed. I think Yard Duty would do me in. I don't like all the chaos and noise. Last night, we had our end of the season soccer party with three teams whose members varied from 5 to 9 plus siblings. The kids were running around like crazy. I kept eyeing the potluck table and hoping someone was going to bring liquor.

p.s. Thanks for stopping by my blog.

Joanne said...

I often chuckle about those yard duty meetings now that I have the perspective of working in a Kiwi school. The way we micromanaged those children! As if we could prevent every possible injury by screwing them down as tight as possible! No running on the blacktop?(!) The school yard here would make you choke on your whistle. Yesterday, out the staff room window, I watched three separate games of rugby being played on the blacktop IN THE RAIN! Amazingly, we get very few children in the office for baggies of ice or "plasters". To their credit, Kiwi kids are a tough lil' lot.

Maria said...

I never had playground duty, but I did have lunch duty. Never again. I spent more time opening up gogurts than I can say and I grew to truly hate parents who sent those Chef Boyardee ravioli microwave containers with those freaking hard flip top lids. Ugh.

Bubba's Sis said...

Yard Doody. Hee hee.

D... said...

Ya'll's yard sounds wonderful!!! Ours is quite boring. And how nice for your teachers to get 2 breaks! and a chance at off-site lunch. Lucky (said in my Napoleon Dynamite voice).

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