Last week, as I shot my election video for civics class, I walked through the hallways of my old elementary school like a giant lost in the land of Munchkins, hitting my head on multiple overhangs and doorways. I read books like “The Cat and the Hat” and basically exercised my duties as a potential presidential candidate in my civics class’ election. Everything was going according to plan.
Then a small boy in a Spiderman sweatshirt asked me to play four-square with him.
Being a student athlete, and at least 50 pounds more muscle-heavy than this 8-year-old Pokemon fanatic, I thought I could take him and his four-square cronies, wipe their small faces upon the black cement with my awesome dodgeball skills and still have time to get a Starbucks.
But as the last moments of our match approached, I came to a realization. My sweat-drenched forehead and bruised knees were not the tokens of victory, but marks of defeat. Despite my best efforts, I was not only losing the game, but the respect of these children. For goodness’ sake, how could they possibly believe that I was running for faux-President when I couldn’t even control a rubber ball.
I was flustered by the idea that simple toddlers could outplay me at anything, let alone a game over which I, in my elementary school days, reigned supreme. Was I really so pathetic, so focused on college applications that I had lost my ability to play games? Does every high school student share this profound playground depression, or am I simply the result of a failed childhood, overstuffed with fun activities for which I no longer have an appetite?
Later, as I strolled the halls of my own school, I noticed an obscene difference between the two institutions. While the elementary school could be described as lively and enthusiastic, Los Altos High could easily be misinterpreted as a prison or depression clinic. This cannot be healthy for our minds, let alone our frail, aging bodies. Wouldn’t learning be accomplished better if students were encouraged to play games of four-square? At the peak of our youth, we spend our days trapped within classrooms, forced to deal with our trapped energy without necessary outlets like freeze-tag and hopscotch. How can we be expected to be complete, happy adults if we are forced to accept a life of dull repetition, denied of vitalities like playground games?