a quote from my favorite author

“The most solid advice, though, for a writer is this, I think: Try to learn to breathe deeply, really to taste food when you eat, and when you sleep, really to sleep. Try as much as possible to be wholly alive, with all your might, and when you laugh, laugh like hell, and when you get angry, get good and angry. Try to be alive. You will be dead soon enough.”

-William Saroyan, The Daring Young Man on the Flying Trapeze

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

The Great Bat Spin Challenge of 2011

This year, the company who made yearbooks for our middle school included an “All About Me” fill-in-the-blank page.  The page includes a box with the prompt: My favorite teacher is ___________. 

Since I was feeling especially crabby on our school’s field day (school would be wonderful if I didn’t have work with other grown-up people), I worked to counteract my crabbies with playfulness.  So, every time a student gave me a yearbook to sign, I turned to that page and harassed them about leaving that spot blank.  I would say something like, “Hey, what’s this business?  What’s going on with this?  Don’t you have ANYthing to write in this spot?”  All the while gesturing wildly toward myself. 

My first supervision post was the Bat Spin station.  This is the station where one hold a bat upright on the ground, places his palm over the end of the bat, places his forehead on the back of his hand, twirls around rapidly in the bent over position, then takes off running in a dizzy, stumbling stupor.  Usually, two people compete in a dizzy, stumbling stupor race to a nearby finish line.

I had deliberately signed up for this spot knowing that another adult in the building wants the bat spin banned because it mimics the behavior of one who is drunk and it is “dangerous.”  I scoffed at the danger of the bat spin.  One man’s “danger” is another man’s amusement. 

So, as I harassed students and signed yearbooks, one student started to egg me into racing her.  I kept coming up with clever replies, such as “It is against the rules for my to do it.  I am supposed to be supervising; I can’t spin AND supervise.” 

Then she threw down the ultimate challenge.

 “Ms. Rush, I will not write your name down as my FAVORITE teacher unless you do the bat spin.”

The air stood still.  Everyone ceased breathing. 

“Give me a bat.”  I snarled slowly.

As I stood on the starting line, bat in hand, I saw another student look at me with large, round, desperate eyes.  “What if you fall?”  she cried out. 

“Then you all laugh, and I get up.  Life goes on.”  I was confident I could handle the challenge.

As I spun, I thought encouraging, powerful thoughts: I got this.  I am not even getting dizzy.  I’ll show that student who her favorite teacher is.  This is even kind of fun. 

As soon as I heard someone call out, “Go!” I lifted my head and began running.  Sideways. 
Those encouraging, powerful thoughts quickly turned into: Just make it to the grass before you fall!

It turned out I did not make it to the grass like I had hoped.  I fell right there on the black rubber track.  Okay, so I didn’t fall so much as I bit it.   

I rolled over and tried to get up, but gravity had me glued to that track.  It was karma at its best.  I was forced to lie on my back, officially turtled, staring at all the laughing faces. 

Luckily I was laughing too.  If I hadn’t been laughing so hard, I may have realized that I had ended up with a burning scrape on my ankle, a large bruise on my hip, and severely bruised hand (not to mention the bits of rubber track stuck to my clothing).

The cries of, “You are not even my teacher and I am putting you down as my favorite!” made it all worthwhile.

However the best part was at the end of the day.  I looked up to see the band director at the starting line, bat in hand.  I called out my warning, my plea to him to back out while he still could.  He swatted me away as if to say, “You may have fallen, weakling, but I’ve got this!”  Needless to say, he didn’t have it. 


  1. I almost sprayed coffee all over my computer laughing! Laughing with you, of course. Also thinking that I would have done exactly the same thing.
    Love how you unfolded this and hope you are in your backyard oasis recuperating.

  2. I love this!!!! Middle schoolers love teachers who are willing to try silly things. You would be my favorite teacher too. I also loved your line "school would be wonderful if I didn’t have work with other grown-up people". Such a truthful statement...I very often say the same thing. Good for you for supervising the bat spin!

  3. Teachers are just the best people! I loved how you played with the students, despite the fact that you knew it could be trouble. Sorry for the injury, but imagine you'll be rewarded in mind and spirit for this in years to come.

  4. One man's danger is another man's amusement! I love that line. Good for you for giving it a try. Why is there a Mrs. Crabapple (from the Simpson's) in every school??? I hope I never become her!

  5. This could certainly be a scene in a movie. It was a movie in my head.
    I like your spirit.

  6. What a wonderful end of the year story!!! You were a hero before you spun!!! Thanks for a good laugh!! Have a great summer!

  7. Giggle, giggle! That is just too much fun. It's amazing what we'll do for our kids. I'm glad you were able to laugh with your kids while being turtled. :)