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20:32 - Friday, Sept. 04, 2015
Whenever I play dodgeball with my students I lose any semblance of authority that I may have had, holding just barely back from screaming 'IN YOUR FACE!!' when I catch their lobs between my thighs (since my hands are occupied hoarding all the other balls) or from stomping off the court cursing and whining when they land a hit. I join in the arguments over face-hits vs. shoulder-hits instead of mediating them, yell 'TIME OUT! and TIME IN!' with gusto but no actual response, and single out students who have been absent from my classes to peg mercilessly with hailstorms of dodgeballs.

Excessive competitiveness has been a problem for me since time immemorial. I have crystal clear memories of upending Scrabble boards, crying a contact lens out during, ahem, the WARMUP to a racquetball tournament from sheer frustration, and hotly contesting the rules of indoor mini golf that Julian and his brother had just invented ten minutes prior. I do exactly what I am not supposed to do at yoga class: stare around the room when everyone has their eyes closed and try to model my poor form after theirs. I make monetary bets with people over claims in casual conversation, get stroppy during team-building employee volleyball (nobody at work can play volleyball, me included), and rail against invisible route-setters at the climbing gym for being unfair or at the tape for having fallen off a hold that is CLEARLY meant to be part of the route.

In dodgeball, though, I try very hard to reign it in, and make it about halfway there. I know I'm supposed to be a role model for the students about how to show socially acceptable behavior during a friendly game. Whether me, or any of us really, are the best people to be demonstrating good social skills is a topic for another, much longer entry, and perhaps not one in a public forum.


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