18.11.16

What I wanted most as a child

Written for the Post40Bloggers blog prompt Number 82

Something you desperately wanted when you were a child


When I was younger I was terrible at PE. I mean terrible. I had no balance, I was slow; running seemed so easy for everyone else, they made it look simple and fun, they didn't get left behind or fall over and graze their knees. But from about the age that 'Sports' Day' became a huge memory in  my childhood (aged about 9 maybe?) PE day became a day of horror.

I would try all manner of feeble excuses to not take part, faking coughs, sprained ankles, headaches. I would take an age to get changed, volunteer for anything that needed doing that didn't involve actual sport. Fetching the basket balls, handing out and collecting the tabards, setting out the cones...

But Sports' Day itself was a nightmare. Even back in the 70s schools tried to be inclusive, but I didn't qualify to be in any 'proper' races, mine was the ignominy of the 'special' races, full of fat children, wheezing breathless asthma sufferers, and wobbly weak kids, kids like me. And even in these races I did not surge to victory, we stumbled and gasped our way down the 100 yard track like unenthusiastic hamsters, passing the finishing line with the simple joy that it was all over for another year. Nearby the rest of the school waited watching, I imagined them hating us all for being so pathetic.
child standing on a wall 70s

I didn't join in running games in the playground, I was dreadful at catching a ball. When I turned 12 I briefly enjoyed cross country running, mainly as we all departed at various times, spaced out, there was no way to see how badly you were doing (until arriving back last after the showers were finished and everyone was already in Maths) and you could jog/stumble along the paths in the woodland as slowly as you liked, with no one judging you.(except the aforementioned maths teacher!)

I dabbled with throwing the javelin at age 13 and no one was killed, so I'll take that as a success, but despite my height and long arms I didn't seem to have the strength to fling the javelin very far.

As soon as I was in the sixth form I eschewed sport altogether. Finally I had the power to control my own free time at school and I chose chess. Again I was with the nerds and the geeks, but I was used to it by now, they were my people.

So where is this post going? with its whining and self pity? Well at age 34 I was diagnosed with Charcot-Marie-Tooth (Hereditary Motor and Sensory Neuropathy) and suddenly it all made sense! The weakness, the bad balance, the stumble, the tripping due to foot drop. I wasn't dreadful at sport! I was not bad at all considering I was disabled!

So this post is a reminder to myself. What I desperately wanted as a child was to fit in, to be sporty, to be one of the runners, to be a winner on sports day. But I'd have settled for knowing why, knowing why I was last.