Three years ago, I learned a little secret: no matter how highly I regard my California education experience and childhood, I was ripped off. Ripped. Off.
And, as far as I can tell, generations of people from California (and other states on the West Coast) have been similarly robbed.
I recently stumbled across an event that almost Every Single adult whom I know (other than people from the West Coast) participated in during their school year. The event is called Field Day. I knew nothing about it - never heard of the concept and lived my life blissfully unaware. However, now I know what field day is, and its absence from my childhood experience stings.
For all of you who, like me, are unfamiliar with Field Day, allow me to explain: Field Day is one spring day during the school year where elementary-aged kids suspend classes and spend the entire day outside playing "field" games. Classes divide into teams and compete in stuff like three-legged races, potato sack relays, tugs-o-war, and other games that make children happy. On this blissful day, kids spend their time scooting through obstacle courses, throwing water balloons, and competing in hula hoop competitions. If you Google "field day games," there are 33,900,000 results. If you Google, "Joy Phenix's memory of Field Day," you get a sad face and an image of a melancholy girl sitting in a barren classroom studying times tables." (Not really...but that's what should come up).
What is wrong with California? Why didn't our schools do this?? Did this activity someone offend someone's organic sensibilities? Was there a hyper-concern about UV rays? Were we some how OVER-exercised already? Or was Field Day just too much fun for anyone to support?
Maybe our teachers were deprived of Field Day themselves, and they didn't know any better. Hmmm. That's a interesting theory. I'll have to look into that one more.
When I ask people if they have every heard of Field Day, the most common response is "Of course! I still have RIBBONS from Field Day." After talking about their ribbons, the other (unprompted) comment I get from people who grew up in reasonable states is, "Field Day is the BEST day of the school year."
Me: "Womp, womp, womp."
Yes. I believe that it would have been the best day of ANY school year. Any school day that involves not studying, fun in the sun, and random snacks has to rank up there as pretty excellent.
Tomorrow is Field Day at my kids' school. This is my second favorite day to live in Georgia because I see an upgrade to my kids' elementary education. (FYI, my MOST favorite day to live here is the day after UCLA loses to USC in football since I don't have anyone around me who cares one iota about Pac-Ten...er...Twelve football -- but that's a different post for a different day.). I am happy that my kiddos get to experience something that I missed.
I hope they'll share their ribbons with me.
I feel I deserve it.
What about you? Did you participate in this ritual? Did you win ribbons? Or are you a Californian?