Traumatized by tag…and no one told me


By Frank Lewis

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It has taken me some 60 years to finally find out why I am emotionally scarred. At first I didn’t notice the trend in my life. I thought I was just normal with the same ambitions as everyone else and that the things I did as a child had no long-range effect on me. But now…now I know the truth and it took the Mercer Island School District in Washington to show me I have not really been happy at all. I mean I thought I was. I thought I had a great life and that the terrible things that I did as a child had not traumatized me, but was I wrong.

What did the Mercer Island School District do that has given me the opportunity to reflect on my wrong-thinking over the years? The Mercer Island School District has now banned kids from playing tag on the playground.

When I heard this I began to search my deepest thoughts and memory processes, whatever is left of them, and sure enough, I realized I have been traumatized by tag.

Parents told Q13 Fox News in Seattle they had no idea about the ban until their kids told them. Now, moms and dads are asking why they weren’t part of the decision-making process.

“Good grief, our kids need some unstructured playtime,” said mom Kelsey Joyce.

That’s easy for Kelsey to say. She was never run down by a 122 pound kid and humiliated by having him tap her on the shoulder.

“I totally survived tag,” Kelsey said. “I even survived red rover, believe it or not.”

Oh sure, pile it on. Go from one humiliating game to another. It’s bad enough that Ralph Fyffe chased me down and tapped me on my shoulder, but has Kelsey ever played a game in which no one said – “Red rover red rover please send Kelsey over?” If she had maybe she would be lacking in her obvious self esteem.

Q-13 Fox News asked for an explanation and they got it. Mercer Island School District communications director (yes, there really is such a position) Mary Grady explained the district’s decision via email:

“The Mercer Island School District and school teams have recently revisited expectations for student behavior to address student safety. This means while at play, especially during recess and unstructured time, students are expected to keep their hands to themselves. The rationale behind this is to ensure the physical and emotional safety of all students.”

There you go – a perfectly sensible assessment of why a school system would ban tag: “to ensure the physical and emotional safety of all students.”

Will someone please take up the fight against dodgeball? Please take on the cause of jump rope. Our children’s future depends on it.

Now maybe the kids at Mercer can get back to their ipads, Smart Phones, computers and tablets where those thumbs get the real workout they need. Thank God someone in education has tackled (sorry, I probably shouldn’t have used that term) the emotional destruction caused by tag. Sure, it probably wasn’t on your list of problems within the educational world you felt needed to be solved – but then again – your were probably never ignored by Ronnie Mercer when sides were chosen in Wiffleball.

Reach Frank Lewis at 740-353-3101, ext. 1928, or on Twitter @franklewis.

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