punkwalrus (punkwalrus) wrote,

Two things I never remember, and cannot teach

I don't remember when I learned to read or swim. To me, my whole life I have been able to.

My mother told me that I was reading at age 2. I am not sure I believe that, but she swore by it, since she was a housewife who pretty much dedicated her whole life to raising a family she strove so hard to have. I don't recall a time where I could not read. The closest thing I can get to this feeling is when I am in a foreign country, and the signs are in a language I cannot understand. For me, this was Finland, because the scant few hours I was in that country, NOTHING I read made sense. At least in Sweden, there's a Saxon-ish language construct, but in Finnish, "yes/no" is "Kyllä/ei," that is totally weird. At least any negativity should start with the letter "n," but not Finland. So I recall actually being disoriented by signs which seemed like incomprehensible gibberish, and strange disorienting panic set in, like I had gone mad. I wonder if that's the way it's like for the illiterate.

Swimming is another thing I always recall knowing how to do, although my parents pretty much didn't believe me for a long time. In fact, one of my great childhood stigmas was a stupid life jacket I had to wear in and around marinas. A safety orange vest of shame and mockery that separated myself from other kids like a football helmet and a set of arm crutches. I mean, yes, on a boat it's a law now, but I had to wear it on land. WTF? Anyway, they said I'd be allowed to have it off if I passed some Red Cross certification. And I kept failing. Why? because I couldn't dive. Turns out I had scoliosis, which explains why I cannot bend over very well, but my father had this opinion all medical maladies were in my head. Finally, a Red Cross instructor, impressed that I could do "unlimited laps and water treading" as far as he was concerned, passed me, stating correct diving posture was pretty superfluous to water safety. He even bypassed "Basic Swimming" certification to "Advanced" and said if I could fix the diving thing, I'd be a shoo-in for a lifeguard. Sadly, I tried to "show up" my parents with a smarmy, "Seee??? Told you!!!" and that didn't go over very well.

Sadly, when it came to teaching my son how to read or swim, failed miserably. Those skills are so innate, I think they are programmed into my hippocampus (this is a medical in-joke). Turns out CR was dyslexic and ADHD, so when I read to him, he'd get overstimulated and run around the room like a crazed orangutan. And the swimming thing was particularly traumatic because he'd grip onto everything his small fingers could curl around, including my eyeballs once as FanTek medical may recall, to avoid being let go in a pool. It took an older kid to teach him, and I don't know how Josh managed that.

How'd you learn how to read and swim?
Tags: childhood, reading, swimming
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