Ode to the Phys Ed Teacher

I grew up in a small town.  (Can’t you just hear the Mellencamp in the background?)  It was the kind of place where every home has four cars:  two to drive, and two for the dogs to live in.

Really though, it was tiny.  There are high schools that have populations twice as large as the little hamlet where I was raised.  In itsy-bitsy towns like that, while the community may be close-knit, the school systems are rather spare.  The teachers there work with fewer students, so you get a more personal education, but not a lot of variety in the overall learning experience.  It was not uncommon to have the same teacher for a few years in a row, or for your sociology teacher to also coach the cross-country team and oversee the sculpting class.  I took Drivers’ Ed with the Drafting and Wood Shop teacher, who was married to my Biology and Latin instructor.

This somewhat restrained educational experience was not limited to the arts and sports programming.  Sexual Education suffered as well.

I still remember the first Sex-Ed lecture I ever attended in grade school.  Of course, it wasn’t called “Sex-Ed” back then. That would’ve raised more than a few eyebrows.  We couldn’t have been older than ten or eleven when the school nurse came in and asked all the boys to please exit to the gym with the basketball coach, while she talked with us girls as part of our yearly “Development Learning Initiative”, or some such crap.

First came the anatomy drawings.  Boys have a penis and girls have a vagina, blah blah blah.  Giggles ensued.

Then we were instructed on what to do when “our monthly friend” came calling.  Tell your mom, or your aunt, or the teacher, or ask to see the nurse.  We were shown what maxi-pads looked like and how to use them (tampons being far too controversial for young ladies in the Bible Belt of Michigan), and told that it would all last a few short days and then not come around again till the next month.

We were told that this was our introduction to womanhood, and that we should be proud that we were developing into young adults.

Young adults who would eventually have urges.

Which we were not to give in to under any circumstance.

End of lecture.  Back to playing Oregon Trail.  …I still wonder what the boys discussed that day in the gym, as they all seemed unusually quiet when they returned to class.

Fast forward to high school, and Sex-Ed was still not called “Sex-Ed”.  It was called “Health Class”, and it was taught by the large, balding, male gym teacher/girls’ basketball/junior varsity football coach who wore a gray t-shirt and black track pants to school every day.

(If you think I’m ripping off Mean Girls, then rest assured that I was in and out of high school long before Tina Fey was writing movies.  But yes, I totally relate.)

High school Health Class wasn’t so different from the fifth-grade version:  More anatomy drawings, although more graphic.  More thorough explanations of the inner workings of the male and female reproductive systems, but only to the extent that we understood how to keep from getting knocked up.  Boys and girls took the class together, which caused the whole hour to revolve around embarrassment than anything else.

If anything was learned in that six-part series of classes, it was that getting pregnant was the worst thing that could happen to you, and that protecting yourself from pregnancy should be your main goal in life, aside from college applications.  If we found ourselves struggling with the decision to have sex (because really, what else is there to do in a secluded little village?), we were instructed to tell an adult who could help us protect ourselves.  The same school nurse who taught us about maxi-pads six years prior would be armed with “protection” should we find ourselves in need of it.

Of course, abstinence was deemed the best route to our lofty dreams of college and careers and, eventually, marriage and kids.

I wonder what my high school gym teacher would think if we sat down for a chat today.  Not only did I successfully not get knocked up in high school, or in college, or out of wedlock, but I am still not pregnant to this day!  I must be in the minority for my graduating class!  Congrats to me for not becoming a teen pregnancy statistic!

…Out of the teen pregnancy frying pan and into the infertility fire.  Joy.

I wish I had an uplifting thought to end this little musing with, but alas, I do not.  I’m having one of those “I’m bitter–Don’t cross me!” kind of days today.

Maybe being a mother isn’t all it’s cracked up to be anyway, right?  I mean, look at Mother Nature.  Everyone in Michigan is behaving like petulant teenagers and declaring their hatred for her today.  Not that I can blame them… A week ago it was 85°, and today?

We get this:

Thanks a bunch, Mother Nature, for giving me just one more thing to be bitter about today.  Really.  You suck.



5 comments on “Ode to the Phys Ed Teacher

  1. zygotta
    April 18, 2011 at 11:10 am #

    yeah, some of my classmates already have THREE kids

    and you know what’s the worst? they keep asking: So, what are you waiting for, Zygotta? You know, you aren’t 20 anymore, do you? Put your act together!

    And since all of this they put in writing, thousands of miles away from me, I am left to grind my teeth silently and send some jokingly lighthearted response, brushing away their commentaries…


    • Tracy
      April 18, 2011 at 11:18 am #

      I almost didn’t go to my 10 year class reunion because I wasn’t pregnant and felt ashamed since I knew I’d be running into friends who were on their third (or fourth… or fifth!) child. I went though, and it wasn’t so bad. Since coming out of the Infertility Closet, I’ve really received nothing but support, and even kind words from friends that I never knew have gone through the same battles themselves.

      Every day has its ups and downs, and I totally agree with you about the “joys of social networking”, but I really do think that most people just don’t know what to say when they find out someone is having fertility troubles. Either that, or they just don’t think before they speak. …Actually, probably both of those things. 😉


  2. ~kboo
    April 18, 2011 at 12:03 pm #

    “…protecting yourself from pregnancy should be your main goal in life, aside from college applications.” LOL

    And I had no idea Tina Fey wrote the screenplay for Mean Girls! She rocks!


  3. Tracy
    April 18, 2011 at 12:17 pm #

    She’s my HERO. Also, I heard she’s pregnant again, in her early 40s, so hey–one more thing to aspire to, I guess. 😉


    • Tracy
      April 18, 2011 at 1:21 pm #

      Okay, not “early 40s”. 40. Big difference. I’m 30, and I hate being lumped into the “in your 30s” category, lol.


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