Recess is still better than math class

Published 12:00 am Sunday, September 17, 2006

Aug. 17, 2005

Recess at midday, in August, in south Mississippi isn&8217;t all it&8217;s cracked up to be.

Yet, it&8217;s still better than math class.

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About 30 minutes of writing numbers in expanded form, word form and short word form &8212; don&8217;t ask &8212; in Mrs. Tuccio&8217;s class Friday showed me that in order to get to know this class, I had to spend time with them in their territory.

In fourth-grade, your territory is the slab of field that grants you freedom for 30 minutes of recess each day.

But with that freedom comes sweat.

Lucky for me, fourth-grade girls have a little more common sense than fourth-grade boys. So I spent recess under the only shade in sight with the girls, while the boys ran full-speed ahead through the glaring sun.

The boys are always crazy, Nyelah and Jimmesha told me, and they get in trouble more than girls. Their point was evidenced by the line of boys on the playground fence &8212; the form of punishment teachers use during recess.

But the gap between the sexes seems to be encompassing more than just recess activities for the 9- and 10-year-olds.

Nyelah and Jimmesha, two of the taller girls in class, have nearly a foot over the flirtatious boy they admit is cute.

They see the silliness in his antics (even though they still fall for them), and they&8217;d rather admire from a distance than chase him around the playground.

In the classroom, the girls appear more studious, and at the very least quieter.

And really, they&8217;d rather talk about their quest for &8220;Star Search&8221; fame than silly old boys.

NJB, that&8217;s the name of the group Nyelah, Jimmesha and friend Brianna compose. They practice Mariah Carey songs on Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays at Nyelah&8217;s house. Mom is doing some Internet research, and the girls are serious about appearing on the show. They do a little dancing, but mostly they are vocalists.

All say they&8217;ve been singing since they were little bitty, and the group claims a little bit of church performance experience.

Maybe I gravitated toward the tall girls because I&8217;ve been in their size 7 shoes.

I remember standing under the trees talking to the only other tall girl while all the cute, short boys ran by.

I was told all my life that the boys would catch up. They&8217;d end up taller and the maturity would come with age.

I told Nyelah and Jimmesha the same thing Monday. They were skeptical at best &8212; smart girls.

As the sweat-covered class lined up for the next set of lessons, I headed for my shower and a bottle of water and tried to remember why recess was so fun.

I&8217;ll be sure to choose an inside activity for next week, and maybe soon I&8217;ll be brave enough to try math again.

Julie Finley is the education reporter for The Natchez Democrat.

She writes a weekly column based on experiences with Marty Tuccio&8217;s fourth-grade homeroom class at McLaurin Elementary. She can be reached at 601-445-3551 or