Yes, it’s possible to fail first grade gym

By RACHEL WITKIN | October 18, 2012

I’m so uncoordinated that once, my gym teacher had to ask my parents if they locked me in a closet all day at home. Instead of talking about academics at my parent-teacher conference, they apparently talked about my inability to do any kind of athletic activity. My teacher had given me an “N” in physical education for that quarter, which was the lowest grade. I don’t know what it stood for, but probably something like “not a real human being.”

My mom asked him if I was trying in class, or if I was just sitting in the corner refusing to participate. Though I wish I had been cool enough in first grade to rebel against my gym teacher, my teacher grudgingly admitted that I did enthusiastically participate in everything that we did. I was just so terrible at everything that he didn’t know what to do with me.

That was the point where he asked my parents if they kept me locked in a closet all day, because there was no way that I could still be this uncoordinated if I was actually allowed to run around outside. My mom told him that not only did I exercise, but I had in fact tried multiple sports, and that he had to pass me because I was at least trying.

The sad thing is that she wasn’t even lying to the gym teacher. She had enrolled me in gymnastics classes when I was four in an attempt to try to make me more coordinated. I liked the balance beam and the giant, colorful ball pit, but the only actual gymnastics I could do was hold onto the bar and flip myself around. When the second session came around, the teacher kept me in the beginner class so I could “teach the little kids.” They were three years younger than me, and already way better than I was, but I probably thought I was actually teaching them something.

I gave up on gymnastics and moved onto soccer, which I played for a whopping five years. I told myself that I was really good at stealing the ball from people. The only goal that I ever scored was when someone on the other team kicked the ball near me, and it bounced off of my shin and into the goal. I prided myself on not caring that the ball had hit me, which made me way less of a crybaby than my other friends who dissolved into tears every time they got hit.

I also did not understand how to skip. My mom decided to put me through months of intensive skipping lessons, which meant that she just sat there and made me try to skip until I finally learned it. I haven’t skipped in years, but I tried to just now, and miraculously I still know how — after a few botched efforts, that is.

So no, I was not locked up in a closet when I was at home, thank you very much. I did end up passing first grade physical education. I even somehow ended up as a competitive swimmer for the next fifteen years of my life. Which, of course, makes total sense.

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