||[13 Apr 2012|12:33am]
I'm eighteen years old now, but as a kid, I had always suspected there was something different about me. At first, it wasn't much of a problem. It was only as I grew older that it became more and more apparent.
It began, I think, with telling the time. I simply could not grasp the concept of time, or how to read an analog clock. I sat down with my mother everyday after school; I can still remember that colourful plastic clock with the moveable black foam hands. She'd spend hours trying to teach me how to read those numerals. I didn't understand. Didn't understand what there was to tell- what was time? I couldn't for the life of me, comprehend what those numbers meant, what their significance was . It all seemed very complex, like some ancient puzzle. I must have had about 12 different watches by the age of 11, but it was only at the age of 13 that I finally managed to get a vague idea what time meant, and how to read it correctly. My dad honestly believed I was stupid. He's a maths teacher, and famously insensitive to the emotions of others- he seems to have a notorious blind spot for people's feelings.
"She's trying to humour you," he scoffed, when at 14, I told him that my friend, a brilliant scholar and prize student, had admitted to experiencing difficulty telling the time as a child, too. "She's much too intelligent for that!"
I said nothing, but his words stung; they always did. That was another of my troubles with maths, growing up. My dad.
You would think that as a teacher, he would have immense patience for explaining the logical processes of mathematics. After all, it was his job, was it not? Sure, his students were teenagers; not little kids, like me. But his patience for explaining maths to me wasn't improved by my "coming of age." In fact, it only got worse.
At seven years old, I had fought back tears during maths class, when the rest of my class played "Around the World", a game where they would recite the multiplication tables in a circle, each time increasing in speed. And as the years went by, I begin to notice more idiosyncrasies; ways I was different to my peers.
I couldn't understand card games. I was hopeless at every one, except simple games like Snap! and Go Fish. If the rules were explained to me, they seemed absolutely incomprehensible, like a foreign language. The person was speaking English, but the words they were saying meant nothing to me. And when the game began, and it came to my turn, I'd always do it wrong, and everyone would laugh at me. I hated the way they laughed (and I experienced this very recently in fact, at a party). So condescendingly, because it was so easy, wasn't it? Only a fool would fail to grasp something so effortless, so laughably simple.
I struggled endlessly with sports. In hockey, football and just about any team game my sports-crazed school forced us to play, I had no idea what I was doing on the pitch. I was good at scoring baskets, though, and was made Goal Shooter for the team. Having a spatial understanding of my position was on the netball court was difficult enough. In hockey, it was impossible. I ran cluelessly around, or simply stood there, not knowing where to go. The drills however, were the worst. They traumatized me and made my teammates treat me with overt contempt. I couldn't remember the order in which you were supposed to run, pass and shoot. I would miss out a step, or pass the ball too early. And when the teacher would tell us to speed up... oh, god. Disaster. I'll never forget the hurt and humiliation I felt when particularly unpleasant younger students would make snarky comments about my inability to do drills properly. They, too, treated me like I was stupid.
When my father, a tutor, or another maths teacher would try to explain a new technique to me, I couldn't grasp it at all. When it came to demonstrating what we'd learned in tests, I always came bottom of the class. Teachers quickly became irritated with my inability to remember anything they had "taught" me. They called me lazy, disinterested. Especially since I was in the top sets for English and languages. My father was the worst, because he'd always shout at me until I cried.
Anyway, I'm glad to have found this community.