Every year after parents & teachers evening, mum and dad would return home quite bemused. They found my assessments fascinating and didn’t discourage me but we all had a task at hand: how to tone down my every being. It was work in progress but as a family, we never achieved these results. It’s now a few decades on and the progress has been at a stagnant pace. Obviously I’m still making steady progress. I was not a lost cause in this topic, just more food for thought and a ‘”Let’s try Plan W because the others in the alphabet weren’t working.’ I never knew what ‘tone down’ meant. Which part? How? Why? Be specific and break it into segments on a chalk board. Guide me.
At least once every two years I’d show up at school in my Brownie (Girl Scout) uniform when it wasn’t a Saint something’s day. I’d then dance around the May Pole after class while the teacher screamed “Heddi, stop swinging your hips so much. We’re in Leeds and you’re seven, not Brazil in your twenties. Take it down a beat.” I cleaned the school guinea pig cage, failed to calculate the tipping point and guinea pig shit, with bundles of straw, would fall on me instead of into trash. Mum would stick me in the bath sighing “We’ll never get those droppings out your ears. They’re lodged in too far.”
I failed at sticking to Brownie class. “If you swear one more time Heddi Cundle, you’re out” ranted the teacher. “Ok, Mrs f-bombing Blogs” to her face and was kicked out. As a skinny runt, I attempted ballet class but forgot my shoes, refused to take my tights off and dance in bare legs, paranoid over my eczema, so the teacher gave me an ultimatum. “No shoes or no return.” I grabbed my leotard and happily bounced out the class. Swan Lake would never contact me and I didn’t really care for a pirouette.
Before gym class, my teacher asked the kids to guess how many socks I had in my gym bag. The highest guess was three. Wrong. I had 11 pairs of socks, worried I’d forget one and the class would see my eczema legs. I responded. “Bravo Ms Capstick, next week lets guess how many kids swear at you behind your back.” I was promptly sent to stand under the grandfather clock in punishment. I hugged it like a long lost friend and talk at it for hours. “Your posture is so good. You’re a great listener. Have you always been this tall?”