Pilates and Meeting the Principal and No Child Left Behind

Ever have one of those days planned that when you look at your calendar the night before, you ask yourself what kind of crazy, workaholic lunatic scheduled this mess? And then you remember you don’t have a personal assistant and this is all your fault? And you realize that you can’t reschedule any of it, and that makes you want to run upstairs to your bedroom, crawl under the covers, and never, EVER come out again? Yeah, that was my day yesterday.

Except I have kids, and I’m simply not allowed to hide under the covers all day. I suppose this is a good thing. It makes me face these kinds of days. I now face them with a bit more fluidity than before – reminding myself that I am imperfect, and that if the day does not go according to plan that absolutely none of it is a life-or-death matter. And yesterday presented many special challenges, and that is why I am glad I am bad at mountain climbers.

By “mountain climbers”, I mean the exercise. I have no issues interacting with folks who climb mountains. I don’t understand them, but we get along. I am just terribly, horribly inept at even the most basic mountain climber exercise. And these days, all the trainers and group instructors seem to want to “kick them up a notch”, as though mountain climbing needed kicking up, and as though I don’t already kick myself in at least one eyeball every time I do them. (I am a notoriously clumsy exerciser. When I began working with my personal trainer, she insisted this was simply my perception and not true, and that with some time and work, I would be as well-balanced as anyone. I’m not sure if she meant my mental stability too, but I sometimes wonder. In any case, I have completely proved her wrong on this point, and she seems to have accepted it, as she hovers over me anytime I do ANYTHING that could end in disaster. (I once nearly steam-rolled myself with a foam roller at home, because I forgot I was wearing an apron and the apron became entangled in the roller somehow and I was sort of stuck, lying there with the cats stepping all over me, for at least a few minutes . . . (Yes, I wear aprons at home all the time. When you work from home, you will understand.) I have forgotten how many parentheses I need to end this so . . . )))))))))))) Hopefully, this will satisfy the grammar police.

And so everybody has to do mountain climbers (again, the EXERCISE) in some special way these days, with those horrible, gliding discs that make people like me wonder who on earth needs help being MORE clumsy, while planking on stability balls or small, sturdy animals, or, as was the case in my Pilates Reformer class yesterday, WHILE SUSPENDED FROM STRAPS AND PLANKING.

My Pilates instructor is a very nice person who has occasional flashes of sadism, during which she incorporates TRX training into our classes. As if all the springs, straps, and moving parts on a reformer machine aren’t enough to make me suffer. Anyway, after a certain amount of confusion and a near-death experience, I managed to manipulate my feet into the straps that were hanging from the “tower”, and lower the front of my body into a plank position. I was rather proud of this, and was ready to wipe my hands together in a “Yep, I conquered THAT! Time to go home and eat chocolate!” gesture, when my instructor politely informed us that we would be doing mountain climbers in this position.

And so she cued us, “One piece of steel from head to heal! (But now with mountain climbers!)” I sort of writhed around a little bit in my straps while the other women in the class performed beautiful, perfectly-executed TRX-suspended, pointy-toed Pilates plank-mountain climbers. “Wow! My instructor gasped! You all could be in a video!!” I made some remark to the effect that I was sure she was right about the other three, but that she should probably put a big black rectangle over me and my reformer for the duration of this hypothetical video. To which she responded, with a smile (as she always does), “Isn’t it nice that we all have things we excel at and things that challenge us?”

Huh. I suppose it is. To wit, just prior to this embarrassment in human aviation, we had been performing TRX bicep and tricep curls, which involve using your body as a weight for resistance and actually pulling your body up and down as you curl, with your hands through loops attached to straps, which are attached to the tower. I am a viking at this. This is partly because I work out with a trainer who also incorporates TRX into our workouts, but also because, I think, I just have strong arm muscles. I was always the kid who opened the soda bottle caps when you couldn’t. Yep. I’m that kid. I can’t mountain climb, but when you can’t get that cap off your RC Cola, give me a holler and I’ll take care of it. So, I was kind of reveling in that moment, when I had to take every option my instructor offered to make this move harder for me, because I initially found it quite easy. Stepping in further and further, and balancing on my heels only, and actually seeing the muscles in what a yoga instructor once dubbed my “little chaturanga arms” contract and release, right on cue.

My Pilates instructor is right. We all have things that we excel at, and things that challenge us. I suppose these things are a product of genetics, upbringing, and environment. So I let go of my mountain climber psychological issues, and instead of telling you how terrible I am at it, from now on I’ll tell you what I tell my students to say about particular areas of technique that plague them, “I’m working on that.”

And so I moved on through my day. Through the Costco, waiting patiently even though I was in a hurry when an elderly couple blocked the aisle, because they probably aren’t quite as aware of their surroundings as before and those are also things that make them different but not worse. Through the Costco gas station where the pump didn’t read my card, and the attendant didn’t come when I honked my horn like the sign says you should when you need help, and so I had to run all the way back to the attendant’s booth (which is very far away at our Costco) to get help.

And I called my favorite sushi place from my car and told them I was having a busy day and running late, and they rush-prepped a dragon roll for me. (Gotta love a small town.)

And I came home and put away the Costco that needed putting, and scarfed down the dragon roll. (Ok, I didn’t scarf it. Dragon rolls require at least momentary savoring.) And then I did a quick, slightly cheater version of “getting dressed for work” (read, “no time to shower” and “thank you, inventor of dry shampoo”), and headed to my kids’ school to teach a flute workshop and to (insert ominous public domain music here) A MEETING WITH THE PRINCIPAL.

And in this meeting the principal and I discussed the broad spectrum of families at our school – in terms of economic, social, and ethnic backgrounds, and how to meet all those needs and still keep music, art, and P.E. part of the equation. (Mostly, this was me arguing that music, art, and PE shouldn’t be considered optional in the first place, and him mostly agreeing, and bemoaning the pressure from the state to emphasize reading, writing, and mathematics. And me saying it seemed they were willing to sacrifice most anything to meet these pressures and pointing out that many of the kids at our school aren’t going to pop over to the local arts academy and sign up for private instruction should he close the doors on these programs completely, and me saying at one point, “YOU ARE their arts academy.” And him agreeing and telling me about his vision for fixing this issue, which is actually quite promising if he can get it to work, and then ending with us quoting Monty Python at each other and him telling me I should either come to work with him or be a stand-up comedian. (NO.)

And then I raced home to meet my daughter’s bus, and she told me it was Chipotle fundraiser night, and usually I say I already have dinner planned, but since today was so tightly scheduled I actually jumped up and down, slightly yelling, “Yes!!! It’s Chipotle night!” And so we picked up Chipotle and tried to pick up my son from band practice (he usually walks) on the way home, but he didn’t answer his phone and he STILL hasn’t set up his voice mail like I asked him to, so I say to that, “Happy trails, kiddo”.

And then I was still too late getting home to actually eat dinner and I had to go to a meeting at church which was necessary but boring and also very cold. And then I came home to grab a bite to eat, and my daughter, who never has questions or issues with homework, had questions and issues with homework, and of course they were word problems, and my son who is brilliant at math was at karate, so I had to eat Chipotle AND simultaneously help my daughter figure out what Stewart’s monthly payments would be if he paid $400 up front on his bank loan and then paid off the rest over three years. And I want to know where Stewart is banking because they seemed to have forgotten to charge him interest. Go Stewart! (Note to mathematics question creators: my daughter’s first question was, “What’s a loan?” Thanks so much.)

And then I had to run out AGAIN and coach a (blessedly) short rehearsal. And come home. And clean and do laundry. And collapse.

And do all this with a smile.

And it helps to know that we all have strengths. Thank goodness there are people who do mountain climbers and other things better than me. Thank heavens for people who work in customer service and run small, local businesses well and make a mean sushi roll. Thank goodness for the person who organized the boring but necessary meeting I had to go to at church – and who probably puts up with quite a bit of parental griping and moaning and complaining about how she does it. I’m glad someone excels at putting that sort of thing together. And how lovely that some people are born administrators, comedians, or musicians.

And how I would love it if our legislators understood this in regard to education. And allowed schools to once again have the flexibility to give ALL children what they need. Namaste.


About fluteromano

An active freelancer, private teacher, and university professor settles down to raise a few kids in a small town. For my professional bio, please see my studio website: www.charleneromano.musicteachershelper.com.

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