My Inner Weirdo
Being a weird child
“What’s wrong with you?”
I don’t know how often I heard those words, either shouted, hissed, spat or growled in my direction. Or how often I imagined that exactly those words were going through the minds of my classmates, co-workers, fellow students and even my family.
That’s something I’ve known my whole life.
In kindergarden, one could usually find young me in a corner painting, drawing, reading or teaching myself to write. The first year I “wrote” with templates, but by the time I entered primary school I already knew all the letters and even a lot of words (in my opinion) because I had read all the books I could find (except encyclopedias, mind you. I was in kindergarden ;) ).
Granted, my kindergarden-time was surely the easiest time of my life. More often than not I could do whatever I wanted, which resulted in me being inside almost all the time, being immersed in what I loved. And I absolutely enjoyed that.
Nevertheless, the result of my behaviour was that by the time the primary school wanted me …
(Expl.: I’m born at the end of September, which means that my parents could choose wheter to let me go to school or not. Which is quite strange, because in Austria kids are sent to school a year later if their birthday is after August 31th. Whatever. I had to take a placement test, and yeah, the school wanted me.)
… my kindergarden teacher told my parents: “Yes, I know, her placement test said she should definetly go to school, but I’d like her to remain another year in kindergarden.”
To the question as to why she thought so, the teacher replied: “Because she isn’t able to integrate herself into the group. Regarding her social skills, she is far behind the other kids her age.”
There you have it. I was socially inept.
I had trouble making eye-contact with people who weren’t my immediate family. Sometimes even with them.
I wasn’t like the other kids who shouted, squealed with joy and screamed with laughter. Who ran around playing with their friends. Playing hide-and-seek, playing tag or what-not.
I didn’t play with the other kids because I couldn’t understand their games. They made no sense or didn’t interest me at all.
I myself was never interested in things like that, it was just too loud, too fast, too everything. I didn’t know how to behave in situations like these. My senses were being bombarded with sounds, sights, smells and touches I didn’t want and frankly couldn’t process.
To put it another way, it was sensory overload, pure and simple.
Even in kindergarden I had my methods to cope with my sensitive ears, my non-existent sense of balance or my sensitivity to human touch. I immersed myself into the things that really interested me, effectively blending out everything else.
I was never really all that interested in friends, to be honest. Sure, there were moments when I was jealous of the kids who had friends, but that was something I felt for the first time when I was in primary school.
What a nice transition point. Let me try to explain my primary school life without being too insulting or nasty (that’s actually quite difficult for me).
My life in primary school was, in short, hell on earth.
Approximately four times more kids making noise during break. Even more eyes that looked at me in confusion or rejection. Or dissapointment, if you include my teachers.
Don’t get me wrong, my grades were really good.
Except for math. I was terrible in math, even in primary school.
My teachers were dissapointed in me because I was so “bright” but I really sucked at interacting with people. They were delighted that I could already write but frowned on the fact that I was such a slow writer. They expected me to be fast and I was everything but. I was a slow writer because I hated writing in cursive. That was really difficult for me.
“Why can’t I write how I always did? The letters are the same, right?”, I thought when they taught us how to write the cursive letters. I couldn’t understand why it was so all-important about that. I had taught myself the block letters and I was satisfied. Because in my opinion knowing the letters, being able to write and read them was enough.
But my teachers were insitent. So I studied and practiced the cursive letters. I managed to write them, but my tempo was a lot slower than my classmates.
Sometimes, when the classroom was really loud and noisy, I had an even harder time. The noise overrode the intense concentration I needed to write in readable cursive and as a result I got even slower.
All in all, several things made my school life difficult. One of them was the bullying.
Looking back, I can understand why my classmates bullied me. I was the strange kid. The odd one. The weird girl standing in a corner of the schoolyard, not playing like the others.
I can understand, to an extend why they made fun of me, although it took me quite long to understand what exactly they were making fun of. I was the last one to understand that the joke was on me.