Wednesday, November 13, 2013

I'm not crazy, my mother had me tested: Part 1

This is one of many now-famous lines spoken by Sheldon on the popular sitcom The Big Bang Theory. I am a fan of the show, to perhaps more of a level than The Man would like. Sheldon is a flawed character, highly eccentric, and socially awkward. I saw a backstage interview with the actor who plays Sheldon, and he said the most common thing people tell him about his character is that they "know someone just like that!" I had the same thought too, except that someone is me.

I know, I know, everyone thinks they are special. I’m not allowed to be both humble and still have a sense of “other” at the same time. But I am “other,” and I'll explain how if you’ll let me.

Each day for the next ten days, I’ll be posting a new blog post. Each day will have a sort of theme, and they are all related in some way to this Sheldon character. I’ve put more of myself into these posts than any others before now, and this is my story.

I’m not crazy, my mother had me tested.  I’m not sure exactly what the doctors were testing me for, but I do recall being tested. I was four years old and in preschool. I hated preschool with all of the passion a four-year-old can have, and even now, I look back with both anger and sadness. I didn’t want to go there two days a week, and I desperately wished to leave as soon as possible. My mom tells me that when she’d drop me off, I’d cry and cry until Dad would pick me up a few hours later. After a week or two of this, the teacher must have recommended that my parents take me to see a doctor to make sure I was okay. I remember so clearly waiting in the waiting room to see this doctor. There was a labyrinth game sitting on the table. It was made of wood, had two spindles sticking out the side, and contained a small metal ball. I was utterly entranced. My parents showed me how it worked, and I patiently lost that infernally small ball down the gigantic pits of despair over and over again. When the doctors called my name, I begged them to let me take it into the back room. They agreed. While I played with the labyrinth, I remember they were asking me questions, stupid questions like, “Do you like preschool?” “Do you make friends?” and “Do you like playing games?” I knew what they wanted to hear. I remember so vividly having the sense that I was being tested on my ability to give the same answer over and over again. It seemed an endless cycle of starting the labyrinth over again and them ruining my concentration to ask the same question in a slightly different way. I don’t know what the official word was, but I'm definitely not crazy.  My parents switched me to the other preschool class. I still cried every day. I still hated being made to play with my peers. They talked like babies and sang silly songs. They wanted to play with dolls and imaginary friends. I wanted to be left alone in the “woodshop” area and build things I could see in my head. I wanted to paint and create and explore, not role-play or nap or--the worst thing imaginable--sit and talk with other girls. I cried so much through preschool that I’m pretty sure the teachers all celebrated the end of that school year. Thankfully Kindergarten proved to be quite the opposite. To this day, I am still in love with labyrinth games. And, apparently I’m not crazy: my mother had me tested.

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