Friday, October 23, 2009

Talking ‘bout a Revolution

Pin It There are times in my life when I realize that I am a bit competitive; you know, trying to get in the shortest line in the supermarket, or reach those perfect middle seats at the movie theatre. There are also times when I find myself having a silent race with nobody in particular… simply just because.

Yesterday I had a student who celebrated his eleventh birthday, and to honor this marvelous occasion his parents took him to a place called Pirate Island situated up Orem. He was permitted to bring a few of his friends from the neighborhood, school, and so forth. He decided to extend invitations to a fairly good group of boys—as well as a certain someone else.

His teacher.

I will admit that I was a bit surprised when I received a personalized invitation and three separate verbal requests on different days to attend his birthday gala. I had done quite well up to this point at deflecting each of these requests with the usual, “Well, I’ll try, but I don’t know if I’ll be able to make it.”

This worked for the first four requests; however, it was just a few days ago that his parents stopped in at the school to pick up some recommended literature; while they were there, they also requested that I attend. Since the gathering was from 3:30 until 5:00, I told them that I would stop in for a few brief minutes before it ended to make an appearance.

Roll forward to 4:45.

The consumption of pizza and most festivities had ended; the boys had all tromped off to the arcade when I slipped in to enjoy a slice of pizza and talk with this boy’s mom and dad who—not surprisingly—were a lot of fun to be around. His mom even entertained me by speaking ‘pirate’ since she worked there, and had dressed the part.

When I was done eating I wished the birthday boy a happy day, smiled, and told them that I needed to go, but I was given a handful of tokens and instructed that I needed to use them before I left for the evening.


I wandered to the arcade where my presence was officially made known to all of my students; they made it no secret that they were excited to see their teacher in a place that was—quite simply—‘not school.’ I pumped my tokens into a few of the machines as the boys frequently directed me to the contraptions which had the greatest probability of spitting out the most tickets to be redeemed as prizes. I quickly fed my tokens into these devices and gave all of my ‘winnings’ to the birthday student, as I had no need for whoopee cushions, eye bouncy-balls, or any other type of knickknack paddycrap.

As I was finishing up the last of my tokens, I noticed several of my students—good boys, really—who seemed to be in a bit of a competition; a few of them seemed to think that they were all that ‘and-a-bag-of-family-sized Cool Ranch Doritos.’

I walked to the group and motioned to the video game standing behind them. “C’mon, Mark,” I said with a grin to one of the boys. “Come take your teacher on in Dance, Dance Revolution.”

Mark looked at the game, saw that there was no controller or switch for his fingers, and quickly decided to forgo the match. Smart move, I thought. When you really when you stop to think about it.

Two more students were offered the challenge. Both times I was declined with nervous shakes of the head.

As I was starting to give up any hope of finding a contender, I noticed a certain young man from my class whom I’ll call ‘Joey,’ who happened to be passing by at that particular moment.

“Joey,” I said with a wave. “Come take me on.”

He looked wary, but walked onto the game pad and took the two tokens I offered.

The game began as the others watched on in anticipated awe.

At this point I’d love to say that I was leaping and blasting through each screen as the dance icons rocketed up and I blew everyone away with my dance skill, but this would probably be dishonest. If I’m really honest I’d admit that I was pretty much floundering all over the place, legs going every which way in a desperate attempt to beat my young rival. Granted, I must have looked like a giant, spastic, epileptic insect sprayed by a can of Raid.

Yet, my students were still impressed.

A bead of sweat coursed down my spine as the first round ended and I looked at the score; I was ahead by nearly 300,000 points.

You go, Teachinfourth, I thought to myself with a grin.

I glanced at my young rival, who just gawked at me with a look of awe. That’s when I remembered…he was only ten.

As the next song began and the second round started, my young opponent did far better than I did. My steps were not quite as accurate as they had been the game before, and when the final scores flashed on the screen, Joey was the clear winner. I pointed this out to him, and congratulated him on a game well played with a high-five and a pat on the back.

As I left Pirate Island a few minutes later and headed for home, I felt a sudden thrill at coming in second place and realized, second place is a great place to be.


Denae said...

what a great and inspiring post. Thanks for sharing your wonderful experience. I think we all have a competitiveness in us, and knowing when to step aside and let someone else win truly makes you a winner in a different kind of race.

Thank you for letting me read your wonderfully articulate and thought provoking blog. And who knows perhaps I will be brave enough to introduce myself today at the fun run.... but probably not.

Meg said...

I always let the little man win our races. He thinks it is funny that is big girl mommy is slower than a little man.

Lydia said...

You are such a fun teacher. How many really would go act like a kid to make his sudents happy?

tiburon said...

Totally agreed. Although I used to let Avery win when we played and now she legitimately kicks my trash.

And I suddenly have self-esteem issues.

Do you think the two are related?

mywest said...

Son, When I come down in Mid November perhaps we can experience the same game....and of course I will remember how young you are.

Lars said...

Knick knack paddycrap eh? That is a new phrase for me. Perhaps this is your dance training for when you take the world by storm with your dance moves like your previous post from a few days ago. Just a thought.

Happy to hear you let the little man win, such an awesome teacher you are.

Mamma has spoken said...

See You connected in public, and others followed. Well, at least one followed..

MindyElias said...

Oh my goodness..........

Would I have loved to have walked by that game at that time and been able to see the amazing dance performance.

Love it......that's too cute!!!


tammy said...

Just by going to the party shows that you are a good teacher.

Richard & Natalie said...

This is just one reason why they love you so much.
And after catching a glimpse of you getting your 'groove on' in the parking lot this morning with your class it made this post so much more fun to read. Seriously, only you could get Ashton to do that in public.
And this phrase- "I must have looked like a giant, spastic, epileptic insect sprayed by a can of Raid." could not describe my own dance moves any better.

Linn said...

I love this story for a lot of reasons. One being that the little man won. The second being the following sentence..."I must have looked like a giant, spastic, epileptic insect sprayed by a can of Raid."


Shirley said...

LOL!! You are by far the coolest of teachers Jason, when and where can we get the video?

Teachinfourth said...

D - It was nice to meet you at the fun run today. I guess you're braver than you thought.

M - It's kind of funny how he thinks he 'really' beat you, isn't it?

L - Only a fun teacher on Thursdays and it...wait, it WAS a Thursday! That explains EVERYTHING.

T - You'd think she'd realize this and would return the favor now, wouldn't you? I guess true maturity comes with subtlety.

D - Thanks for taking that into consideration; I'd hate to get wasted...again.

L - When I decide to 'bust a move' believe me, the world will know it.

B - I just didn't think it would take so much work to get someone to do it, you know?

ME - You probably would have shaken your head, and kept on walking.

T - I won't lie, I debated going at all, but since it was in a public place and I'd been asked four times by my student and once by his parents, I finally caved in.

N - My favorite part of 'Czechoslovakia' is when we do the 'rhythm of the hips.' It's quite humorous to watch some of them the very first time we play that game and then again partway into the'd not believe that some of them are the same kids.

As for Ashton, I don't know how one could stop him from doing that in public; I guess when you have your teacher and all of your friends being goofy, it's all the easier to do it yourself.

L - I call it like I see it. I'm just glad that none of you had to witness it firsthand.

I think it would have burned your eyes out...

S - The world isn't ready yet. So until then the video is - I am sorry to say - banned...due to sheer 'awesomeness' factor and the simple fact that watching it would cause one to suffer uncontrollable jealousy and covetousness.

Rachel said...

I wish I could say that I was the "man" that you are but......that whole competitive streak......ummmm....ya. Aint gonna happen. If you beat me it is because you won fair and square. Maybe if it weren't my own kid......I dunno....I've got it pretty bad.

Gerb said...

I never had any desire to go to that Pirate place until you told me they have this game there. I've never played it, but I have no qualms about making a fool of myself amongst strangers in public. Maybe I'll take Hubba for his 5th birthday to ensure myself a win...

Corine said...

LOL- That was so much fun to read! I don't get to Triple Play (a local gaming place) very often, but once and a blue moon I do... and I just HAVE to play Dance
Revolution! LOVE IT! How fun it would be to see that video!!!! :D Does it really have to be banned, due to "sheer awesomeness?" :(

Perhaps you will soon be as brave as Denae... and show it! :D That's a challenge... No, that's a DARE - A TRIPPLE DOG DARE! :D

Corine said...

Oh, wait, you have ho recording of that, do you? Darn! I suppose my vivid imagination will have to do. :)

PS Great story! :D And, very nicely expressed!

Bee said...

This story made me smile A LOT! It kept making me think of my friend Carrie, who is also a fourth grade teacher, with the same spunk as you:)

And I loved the clip. Hal is a hero in our home. How did I miss this episode? Wow!!

Teachinfourth said...

R - I guess it really all depends on just who the opponent is.

G - If you'd like to look the fool, this game is the way in which to do it; however, it is also available at Nicklecade (or was when I went there a few years ago) and was significantly cheaper to play there.

C - I don't really have a video, but if I did, rest would have been nothing but awesome.

B - This episode is a personal favorite of mine as well. Hal is also a hero because he always pulls through...shortcomings and all.

Farscaper said...

Wow! You looked GREAT in purple with tight black pants! ....

Oh wait....

That wasn't YOU....


Just havn' some fun. This post cracked me up. I Wish I had been a fly on the wall for that one.

Anonymous said...

"a giant, spastic, epileptic insect sprayed by a can of Raid."

I really, really like this image.

Teachinfourth said...

FS - A fly on the wall might just have been swatted; it was probably best that you weren't there, you know?

L - That's most certainly what it felt like...I can only assume that the varied onlookers were either dazzled or...well, probably dazzled nonetheless.

Kathy V said...

Hey! I have a friend who works at Pirate Island!! And she's a lot of fun, too! And she has a 10/11 year old!!

You're such a good guy to go and hang out with the kids. I'd stay away from shooting games and play Dance Dance, too.

Jess T said...

Ha ha ha. What a visual! I recently played a Wii game with my little brother. He's 20 years my junior. He lovingly calls me "Gamercool" now. Hysterical! I tried. I really did.

Teachinfourth said...

J - You get an 'A' for the effort in my book...

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