Publication Date: 2004-08-29
The tagline for this essay--and others on the GoAnimal website--is Play As If Your Life Depended On It.
My teacher at school told us to write a letter to adults about something that we really cared about. She said that we shouldn't hold back, that we should talk about things that were important to us. She said that she would grade our letters on good English, but mostly on whether or not we were good at having a point of view. She promised us that we wouldn't get in trouble for anything that we wrote, no matter what. Well I find that pretty hard to believe, but I figured that I'd give it a try. I'm just trying to be a good student. So, here it is...
My favorite thing to do is play. I like it when I get to go outdoors and run around with my friends. We like to explore, move our bodies and try new things. We like to climb trees, run down to the creek, throw rocks, build things and go wild. So my question is, Why do you always have to go and ruin it? You're always coming around and telling us how to do it better. You're always telling us about some rules and telling us that we aren't doing it right.
I tried listening to you, but now I'm starting to get the idea that you really don't know what you're talking about. In fact, I'm starting to get the idea that we'd be a whole lot better off if you just stopped bothering us.
In PE class, you talk about muscles and hearts and lungs and how we need to build our bodies, but I don't believe what you say anymore. I don't see you jumping, running, or enjoying your bodies. In fact, it looks to me like you'd rather be sitting down. Everybody knows about obesity and diabetes now, even us kids. It seems like so many adults are fat, sick and unhappy with their bodies. So why should we listen to you? What will happen if we follow your advice? Will we end up fat and sick like everyone else?
And every time you come out for PE class, you've always got a clipboard and you're always writing things down. You're always measuring times and distances and everything else you can think of. You tell us that we have to measure up to some standard that somebody set in Washington and if we don't then we don't get to have a patch. Seems like your numbers are more important than we are. If you're so interested in numbers, maybe you should be teaching a math class.
Last year you took away our recess period. And then, when we finally got to go out for PE, you told us to quit playing around so that we could do a workout. And when that was over, you told us to get back to our desks so that we could do some more work. And now you tell us to work harder so we can get good test scores so that we can get a job so that we can do more work. Is this ever going to end? Are we just going to go from work to workout and back to work forever?
And when school is over, you drag us over to a field and get us all lined up in teams and leagues and put us on a schedule and yell at us to try harder so we can beat the other team. Seems like all you care about is winning. Seems like you don't even care how much fun we have, just so long as we're beating somebody. Got to be a winner, cause if you're not then you're a loser and that's really gonna suck. And why do you yell so much anyway? Seems like the games are more about you than they are about us. We just want to have fun.
It would be different if you were happy with your own bodies, but you aren't. When you talk about your bodies at dinner time, all you ever talk about is trying to lose weight and get over your injuries. I never hear you say anything about how much fun you're having. You're never stoked. All you ever say is how out of shape you are.
You say that you know what's good for us and you give us a lot of lectures. But I'm not interested in the words that come out of your mouth anymore; I want to see you move. I want to see you enjoy it. If you're not having fun, I'm not impressed. Why should I live the way that you do? You don't look happy to me.
I've heard you talk about something called a credibility gap. You always say this about politicians who say one thing, but then don't live up to it. Well it seems to me that you have a credibility gap too. It seems like there's a whole lot of space between what you say and what you actually do. You're posers. You've got the talk, but you don't walk the walk. You're always telling us to be active and go outside and play, but you never do. You're always working and complaining. You tell us that "adults know best," but it looks to me like, when it comes to moving your bodies, you don't know much of anything at all.