Swim Time

Swim Time
Scattergories anyone?

Thursday, July 31, 2008

All it takes is one high-stick in floor hockey

William is from the Dominican Republic.  And boy does he hate floor hockey. One foul move or bad call in the hockey cafeteria and you can expect a prompt downward spiral into oblivion.

Elijah on the other hand didn’t care very much about softball last week (baseball being William’s favorite sport) and brought our journey toward a fun-filled game on the softball diamond to an abrupt halt when he wandered into Kennedy Fried Chicken –  a neighborhood KFC whose red and white stripes you may recognize, but whose seafood and gyros you may not.

Now, the boys needed some sort of physical activity and while I was in no mood to finish our hike all the way up to the glass littered softball blacktop, I did think that a little circuit training in the aforementioned multipurpose cafeteria was in order.  So I used this valuable time to explain the inherent goodness in our demerit point system that we use with the boys.  While they may claim to hate these demerit points more than any other concept in the world, it is the primary tool of the teachers/group leaders in the classroom and they do serve their purpose as a moral currency – teaching the boys the moral gravity of their actions and how those actions affect the others (in the way of canceling sports).  Even though they claim to detest the DP system – you would never guess that by awarding negative demerit points that you might be able to make a thugged out Bronx boy squeal in delight at getting a math problem right.

This also served as a prime opportunity to explain how demerit points allow us (the teachers) to respect the boys’ free will and give them the opportunity to exercise their freedom by not forcing them to do anything.  We simply show them that there are moral consequences to their actions (that affect the whole group).  We will never (rarely) strong-arm them into doing anything, for example leaving Kennedy Fried Chicken.

To this I add that awarding demerit points in a calm voice, hopefully with a smile, is better than just raising my voice and yelling constantly.  So I ask them “Is there anyone who does just yell at you all the time, to the point that you just tune them out?”

To this William replies almost in private (and quite sincerely) in his thick DR accent – “yeah, at home all my parents do is yell at me… sometimes it makes me want to cry.”  The candor of which almost got the water works going on my end.

So yesterday, while playing William’s self-proclaimed least favorite sport on earth, he scored what could have been the game winning goal (on me) to go on top 7-6 in OT.  The goal was called back because he continued to play after a high-sticking call from the ref (which is any stick above the ankle, 30 second penalty, of course [ I know this may sound strict, but come talk to me after you take a slap-shot to the shin on the opening face off {of the first day} ] )

So cut to today, when William storms in after the floor hockey game while I am doing a little one-on-one times table work with a rising 7th grader that would rather be chewing on aluminum foil.

William is furious because yet again, he was ousted late in the game by a simple high-sticking call, when ultimately he was just upset because he is an unstoppable goal scoring force that has been relegated to playing defense for the team who needs him.  This scene comes to is climactic conclusion when Andrew is explaining to him how he is a valuable part of the team and that they can’t afford to have him going Mt. Visuvius over a high sticking call in the closing minutes.

Finally, William retorts this with why he thinks Andrew ultimately can’t understand his frustration over the high-sticking call – which in William’s words is “because you’re white.”

Now, while it gets better than this, Andrew begins his approach to this laughable conclusion by explaining that had he been born 19 years ago to parents of the African American or South American persuasion, this would still be an incontestable high-sticking call.  At this point, I am trying to hold back my laughter (as well as two boys, Cheddy and Luis, who are about to go at it after exchanging with the other his least favorite name, cheddar fries and jimmy jones [respectively] ) – Luis (also of Dominican Republic/Puerto Rican heritage - just finished 6th grade) decides that this conversation is way too much fun to miss out on, so he jumps in head first.  After William finally explains to Andrew that he probably would understand his situation if he were African American, Luis puts a nice cap on the conversation with:

“Yeah, that’s ‘cause you worship black people.”

... And that, my friends, is what floor hockey is all about.


Random Survey's said...

I love it. Knowing these kids makes this so real! excelent explination of the demerit point system and kfc!! Keep the posts comming!

Phshstx said...

good lord that is one of the funniest things i have read in a long time. well done sir. i hope the closing weeks are going well for you joel and you make it back to DC ready to jump into a new school year.


slapshot... Bronx style