Bluebirds, Swimming, and Roman Numerals…

T I M E   T R A V E L   T U E S D A Y   O N   W E D N E S D A Y

For those of you keeping track, I neglected to write a post yesterday. I was sooo tired! So here I am again, off of my schedule by one day. I know John Phillips will have a good laugh at this.

Today, I thought I’d look back at a few of the “traumas” that I suffered along the bumpy road of my youth.  Let’s have a look, shall we…

The “Frosty The Snowman” incident

What do Madonna, Shirley Temple and Gladys Knight have in common with me? If you guessed that we were all “Bluebirds,” you guessed right! For some reason my mother signed me up to be a “Bluebird” when I was in elementary school. What’s a Bluebird you ask? They are the youngest members of the Camp Fire Girls, a sister organization to the Boy Scouts of America. The program, at that time, emphasized camping and other outdoor activities for girls.

I only remember two episodes from my time as a Bluebird; walking in a parade with my other fellow bluebirds, waving a small American flag (I have pictures that document this occasion — probably the only reason I “remember” it.) and performing in a Christmas program, where I attempted to sing, “Frosty the Snowman.”

Let’s just say that “Frosty the Snowman” is no “Jingle Bells.” It’s actually quite a long and complex story of a snowman who tragically melts in the hot sun. Basically the trauma occurred because no one bothered to teach me the words to this song. *For those of you who are new moms, here’s a hot tip, never assume your children know the lyrics to important holiday songs. I knew the tune, the first several lines and the chorus, but that’s it.

When it came time to “perform” I had to think quick as the music continued but the words fell away. It was like falling off a cliff. I did the only thing a 6 year old could do, I went into humming mode. This made all of the adults laugh. I was embarrassed and yes, traumatized. At the ripe age of 6, you don’t have any context for that sort of laughter. I felt dumb.  : (

I believe that was the last year of my Bluebird career.

The YMCA incident…

This appears to be a nicer group than mine was.

Learning to swim can be very scary depending on the method employed.  Around the same age that I was donning my Bluebird uniform my parents signed me up for swimming lessons at the YMCA.

I remember my dad driving me, one Saturday morning, to a place neither one of us had ever been before. Once inside, I was told to walk through the women’s locker room (Yeah, I know, that’s a trauma for another day, another post — no child should have to see sagging breasts, wrinkled buttocks, etc. The horror!) and the pool would be on the other side.  Once I got to the pool area I was herded into a group of kids that seemed quite a bit older than me.

The instructor jumped in the pool and told everyone else to do the same. Um, EX-CUSE ME? My heart started pounding, I looked around for my dad. Where was he? There seemed to be some kind of mistake, I DON’T KNOW HOW TO SWIM.  I was petrified. And then the tears started rolling down the sides of my face. Please someone, get me out of here! I don’t remember what happened after that, as I have a tendency to block things. I do remember driving home in the car with my dad who I think tried to be comforting, though this was not his forte. : (

** It should be said that I would eventually become a world class swimmer. That’s right. There is no place I’d rather be than in some body of water, whether it be a pool, the ocean, a lake or a bathtub.   

The Roman Numeral incident…

I was in the third grade, which means I was around 7 or 8 years old, when our school district thought it might be a good idea to introduce Roman Numerals into our curriculum.

For those of you who don’t know, I’m dyslexic. I see letters and numbers backward. I struggle with finding the right words in my mixed up file cabinet of a brain. I often have to read sentences more than once to make sure I understand the context. Spelling and punctuation are always a challenge. I’m slow to process. Once past these  obstacles, though, I’m actually pretty smart. (I’ve taught myself lots of tricks along the way.)

Suffice it to say, that in the third grade I had no tricks. I was called to the board to complete an addition problem using Roman Numerals – meaning I was supposed to do something with a bunch of X’s, I’s, L’s, V’s and C’s. What the heck? My teacher, Mrs. Brown, might as well have asked me to recite “The Star Spangled Banner” in Hebrew.

I stood up at the board with the other children. One by one they sat down, having completed the task. Total trauma. I just stood there and felt dizzy. I could hear the teacher yelling at me but her voice was somehow fading, as if she was in a tunnel. The next thing I knew I was opening my eyes, looking up at people staring down at me. I was flat on my back on the cold classroom linoleum. : (

**It should be said that my math skills never improved. Numbers are not my friends, not even 9, the magic number, or is that 3? If only Jack Black had been my teacher, I would have been so much better off.