As the child of two nurses, I was an active, healthy kid outside of school. I took swimming classes since before my first birthday and the pool was my favorite place to be all summer long. I was always enrolled in either dance or gymnastics. My primary forms of transportation were biking or rollerblading (well, as a child of the ’80s, I started with roller skates.) I even played baseball and basketball with my brother and boy cousins. All of these activities were for fun. No one cared how well I did. It was never a competition.
Gym class, however, was a different experience. There the boys taunted, “oh my God, you suck!” at any missed swing, throw, or catch. I was always among the last to be picked and the first to be blamed for any losses.
But the worst thing about gym class wasn’t the bullying or the sexism or even that universal childhood trauma known as dodge ball. It was that goddamn yearly Presidential Physical Fitness Test (now known as the President’s Challenge.