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Butt, Naked? March 8, 2009

Posted by alwaysjan in Health, Teaching.
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9 comments

chickendance1

Nothing prepared my third grade girls, or me for that matter, for a walk through the women’s locker room at a nearby local aquatic center. No, there wasn’t anything titillating. Tits, yes, but nothing titillating. It was strictly R-rated – “R” as in  Real. Real people. Real bodies. Real scary – as in adult naked women, who bore no resemblance to Hannah Montana, toweling off. The horror!

First, some back story. Our entire third grade was given the opportunity to participate in the center’s “Olympic Challenge.” Four weeks of swimming lessons, four days a week, at the most gorgeous aquatic center imaginable. Swimming doesn’t get any better than this.

But to get to that gorgeous pool, you have to go through the locker room. Now, I never liked locker rooms when I was a kid. In middle school, I was so skinny that I could hide INSIDE my locker to avoid the dreaded gang shower. Luckily, the swim lessons were provided by young hard-bodied instructors. Us teachers got to sit pool side warming a bench – fully clothed, ostensibly “grading papers.”

No sooner had we marked our territory with the our grade books, than a wide-eyed boy emerged from the men’s locker room. “There’s a naked man in there!” he announced, as though he’d just seen an alien. Yeah, the boys have their own issues.

The teacher I partnered with has spent a lot of time in Europe and is married to a European. She gave me the impression they actually have a hard time keeping clothes on those fun-loving Europeans. But reading The Emperor Who Had No Clothes two weeks earlier was the closest my class had come to discussing nudity. We’d decided that the Emperor was wearing his “birthday suit,” though some kids later wrote that he was “butt naked.” (I don’t have a problem with the word “butt,” unless it’s preceded by the word “big.”)

I told my students to hurry up and change. They had no reason to linger in the locker room. “It’s not like you’re at Starbucks,” I told them. The first week was the worst. My Korean girls opened all the lockers and then draped towels between them so as to make small private dressing rooms. At least, that’s what I was told. I only set foot in the locker room once and the collective scream that went up sent me scurrying outside.

The first day, kids had to try on a swim suit (which they got to keep). Several of my bigger girls had to try on more than one to get just the right fit. One girl, who can look me eye to eye, sat pool-side the first week because she was “coming down with a cold.” After a few days, the swim instructor told me she needed try on a suit so she’d be ready to swim. The instructor then handed me three suits.

The girl hunkered down in a bathroom stall and I had to talk her through trying on each suit. Lots of grunting and groaning followed by, “Oops!  I think I have it on backwards.”  I offered to take a look, but she was horrified at the prospect. I finally convinced her this was okay, but first I had put on my dark glasses and keep my eyes shut as I’d promised. I groped around and fiddled with the straps. Then I was granted a quick look. “Hmmm.  I think the straps cut into your back,” I said, reaching for the next size up.

I groused as I heard the girl’s elbows knock against the sides of the stall, “You could have at least chosen a handicapped stall!” At last, we found a suit that covered the subject. I was exhausted. I had no idea that being a “highly, qualified teacher” involved THIS. The icing on the cake was when the girl’s family went out of town the next week – for the duration of swimming. Hmmm… But then what do I know?

When it was first announced that students would be swimming, my Muslim girl’s mother took me aside. She was concerned that her daughter be dressed “modestly.” I assured her I’d figure something out. That night I found myself googling “Muslim swim wear.” Oh dear. Snappy music came up with a woman riding a jet ski wearing what appeared to be a beekeeper’s suit. So not! Later, I found myself at Target checking out board shorts for girls. In the end, my student wore board shorts and a matching top, and yes, the other students knew why. It was no big deal. My student had never been in a pool before, so when she jumped off the diving board on the last day, I was ecstatic.

It was easier for the boys, although the bigger boys (those who wear “Husky-sized” pants), were plagued by an even more embarrassing issue – man boobs. Most of these boys were used to swimming in a t-shirt, so having it all out there for the world to see was humiliating. They walked around with their arms folded over their chest which made them look like they were chronically cold.

Each day we took the swimsuits back to school and hung them up to dry. When I noticed that one of my boys was always the first ready to swim, I realized he was taking his suit home and wearing it under his pants to school each day. Yeah, that would have been me, so I said nothing.

The first day, one of the instructors said the last boy out of the locker room would have to do the “chicken dance” in front of the girls, and vice-versa. This got the kids moving at warp speed. It is possible the “chicken dance” is just an urban legend, because I never actually saw it performed.

I never got around to grading any of those papers, what with taking photos of my students and passing out towels and all. But I had plenty of time to check out the other people at the pool. Not a lot of hotties swim during school hours. Like I said – “R” rated. We were sitting there one day when a guy walked by, his trunks clinging for dear life to his back side. The other teacher turned to me and said just what I was thinking – “crack kills.” We both burst out laughing.

Remember, last one out has to do the “chicken dance!”

Photo Credit:  Chicken Dance by babka_babka on Flickr.