Saturday, October 07, 2006

Early memories and signs that I wasn't quite like the other people:

*I lived in my own little world and was very introspective. In fact, I don't remember speaking anywhere near as much as I *thought*. In addition, it was years before I could easily articulate the things I was thinking about.

*I did not understand boundaries. Oh, I got plenty of spankings....but somehow, I thought rules and boundaries were for people who wanted them, for regular people who wanted to be constrained by them, not for me.

*Other children seemed rather petty, babyish, and uninteresting, as a whole. They seemed to always be agreeing with one another without actually thinking very much about the subject they claimed to agree on.

*I couldn't understand the emphasis on money. If all they wanted was money, why didn't they just pass around an offering plate like they do at church?

*Nor could I understand clothing. I saw some big, lovely fuzzy burdock leaves and asked my babysitter why she couldn't use those for a bathing suit, so we could go swimming. She laughed as though it were absurd. I couldn't see why, they looked nice to me!

*I particularly hated people who talked behind people's backs and then acted all phony nice. I made a point to tell them what others were saying about them and to promote honesty between the two backstabbing parties. It didn't help, and I couldn't understand why not.

*The first thing I remember reading was some kind of a medical book. It belonged to my Grandfather (a doctor) and must have been from his time in the military (WWII). The book listed various injuries and whether the person had a good chance of living or not. I think it must have been discussing triage, a concept I didn't unerstand yet. I walked to school chanting silently to myself, that if a person lost an arm or a leg, they would probably live, but if they lost both legs and arms, they'd die (and all the variations in between). I really liked this book and found it fascinating, but one day my Grandpa discovered me reading it and took it away. He was really upset for some reason and I heard him scolding my teenage uncles. He seemed to think they had left it out...but I think I had found it in the attic. I looked for that book again, week after week, on the shelf where I'd put it, but I never found it again and that made me sad. I'm not sure they knew I could read. I was somewhere between 4 and 6.

*I was talking to my dad abbout numbers. He kept trying to show me about number lines, and my numbers didn't look like that. I told him that my numbers went up, kind of like stairs, into infinity, and that they were transparent and black. He went away mumbling "transparent black numbers....." as though that were an oxymoron. What I wanted to say was that in order for me to do math at all, I had to visually flip through these numbers, they were (were? still are!) like cards overlapping a little bit. When you find the one you want, it lights up. To add, you have to count ahead or skip the desired number of cards. Adding was easy, you just went up the stairs. Subtraction was hard because of the way the cards were layered, it's like falling down the stairs and then looking back up to make sure you fell far enough. You can see the numbers ahead, but not the ones behind. Multiples of ten were a different color or bolder. When I recited numbers (I counted out loud all the time) I emphasized the bold numbers. My uncle teased me for this and asked me why, but I couldn't explain it.

*Spelling was simple. I just pronounced things as irrationally as they were spelled, inside my head. So I had this constant stream going on: Ve-get-ables! Wed-nes-day! pe-op-le! (pee-oh-pull) fri-end! (fry-end) and I would see the words as I said them. I was very good at spelling.

*I daydreamed all the time. My thoughts were so vivid that people could wave hands in front of my face and I would not see them. Teachers complained of my not paying attention. I hardly heard what they said, anyhow.

*I loved art, but it was a little frustrating, because I had exact ideas of what I wanted to draw, and sometimes I even tried to trace it on the paper, but it didn't come out the way I wanted it to. I drew the same subject over and over and over and over again, hundreds of times, trying to get it right. Teachers got sick and tired of seeing the same subject matter.

*Poeple seemed so petty and crabby. They worried abot all sorts of trivial things I didn't care about, and then the things that did interest me, such as small snail shells found behind the hedges, or a matchbox, or an insect, were only bothersome annoyances to them. They expected me to care about what they liked, and yet they routinely destroyed or insulted what meant the most to me. That seemed so wrong.
If I think of more, I'll add that. In a nutshell, even though I was a child, I felt quite equal to the adults around me and expected to be treated with the same respect. If someone was condescending or abusive to me, I held a grudge against them for years, because I felt that they simply had no right to act that way.

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