Tuesday, February 17, 2009

For certain values of "fine"

I'm here, still, and much better than I was a fortnight ago. The week after that last post was pretty tough, I had no energy and less appetite, but I am now back in gear. Working, reading, playing about in Second Life: the usual.

Talking with a friend in SL recently brought back a knot of memories of schooldays.

Me: I had no idea. I was clumsy as an ox, and shy, and afraid of everything that I didn't know.
She nods.
Me: I don't think I really believed in learning then.
She nods. "In learning by trial and error, you mean?"
Me: In being able to learn at all, at least about things in the physical world.
She: Oh, I see.
Me: My belief was that everyone but me already knew everything about sports and activity.
She snorts lightly. "Yeah"
Me: And so I was not at all surprised when phys ed class did not teach football but simply sent us out to practice it, because of course everyone already knew! I took that for granted.
She nods. "I hated playing it..cause everyone else knew how."
Me: You too?
She: And..I couldn't catch or throw. I could tackle far better than my little body should've been able too...but we always played touch! Oh yes. I was pretty hopeless at "sports" despite being a died in the wool tomboy.
Me: Huh. I remember what as called "swimming lessons" one winter, maybe that was still in primary school...
She nods.
Me: I was terrified of the lessons (as soon as they were announced) because it was obvious to me that I was going to drown, because I knew that they would not actually teach swimming. I knew that they would just throw us all into the pool and everyone else would swim while I drowned.
She nods.
Me: I was so scared of this, so miserable, that I finally broke down and told my mother. Begged her to write a note excusing me from the lessons. Oh I know, that was during grade 3, before I got my glasses.
She nods.
Me: She did write a note, not excusing me but explaining my fears and my not knowing how to swim. And so I went to the lessons, and walked across the pool bottom with my hands above my head in diving posture, but bent over parallel to the water (if you see what I mean). I never did get comfortable enough to take my feet off the bottom.
She nods, smiling.
Me: But somehow during the summer after that, I did learn. Probably my mother taught me in the local pool. I remember meeting Annie Something in the pool that summer, I was doing a very splashy and inefficient dogpaddle, bent nearly into a ring, back of my head nearly touching my arse, to keep my mouth and nose out of the water -- but nonetheless in the water and moving more or less under control.
She smiles at the picture.
Me: And Annie, who had been in the so-called "lessons" with me, said "Udge, you learned to swim!"
She grins.
Udge smiles and chokes back a tear.
She strokes your head, feeling the silky fineness of your very short hair. Smiles at you, bent over the keyboard.
Me: That was my approach to everything and anything physical. I knew that I was the only one who didn't already know how. I knew that I would be mocked and humiliated for my inability.
She nods, listening.
Me: I remember Barb Realname sitting on the bench in gym one day, watching someone and myself stumbling about trying to hit a badminton bird to each other, she said "It's not Shakespeare, is it Udge?" And it suddenly occurs to me just now to wonder whether that was not meant kindly, meant to wake me up.
She sucks in a breath.
Me: Perhaps she wanted to tell me that we were all only human, that we all had a weak spot or two.
She hugs you tight.
Me: Perhaps I had been overcompensating by being obnoxious in English class.
She: You were NOT obnoxious..you were engaged.
Me: Oh no, I know that I was pretty obnoxious! I was so unsure of myself that I pretended to be totally sure of myself.
She listens. "Were you? or were you interested in Shakespeare? You might have also felt pretty proud of yourself for being interested in something esoteric..."
Me: I am afraid that I would have mocked the kids who couldn't parse a play, as harshly as they mocked those who couldn't catch a thrown ball.
She nods, thinking...mmm.
She kisses the top of your head and grins.
She: Love you anyway, Udge.
Me: Awww, thank you.

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Blogger Dale said...

Yes. Me too.

February 17, 2009 at 3:49:00 a.m. GMT+1  
Blogger Zhoen said...

Who's to say the athletes didn't 'pretend' to know about sports more than they really did, just to shame the smart kids.

Had the same experience with baseball. Hated playing, would play intentionally badly, partly because they yelled at me for playing badly and making them lose, partly because they never bothered to explain any of the rules to me. Little twits. Like I would try to win to please the idiots yelling at me. Fuckers. Ditto Volleyball.

At least I had dance, which I knew and the other kids didn't. My little secret weapon.

February 17, 2009 at 4:05:00 a.m. GMT+1  
Blogger JoeinVegas said...

You've got friends all over.

February 17, 2009 at 10:03:00 p.m. GMT+1  
Blogger Pacian said...

*raises hand*

It was rugby for me. They taught us the rules alright - but the whole tackling thing was always going to be an issue for someone as featherweight as me.

February 18, 2009 at 10:18:00 p.m. GMT+1  
Anonymous Seraphine said...

that's the thing. everyone learns differently. some like to be told what to do, others learn by doing, and still others by observing or reading. we all have a certain way of processing information.

a good teacher is able to recognise these differences in learning styles and encourage accordingly.

congrats on learning to swim. i bet even fish learn to crawl first, before going into deep water.

February 19, 2009 at 6:10:00 a.m. GMT+1  
Blogger Serena said...

Thanks for your comment! I just came across your blog totally randomly--I don't even remember how--and liked it a lot. Not something I usually do; most blogs I follow are people I know in real life. But I figure it's educational to read the blogs of a few insightful strangers...

February 22, 2009 at 7:48:00 p.m. GMT+1  
Blogger Udge said...

thank you, my dears, it's nice to discover that one isn't (wasn't) alone :)

Were the athletes faking too? Maybe, when I look back disagreements about the rules were frequent enough that they might have been. Never thought of that at the time though.

Serena, welcome aboard, nice to have you here.

February 23, 2009 at 10:56:00 p.m. GMT+1  

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