The Early Years

Ever since I can remember, I’ve always been considerably bigger than everyone – in every sense. I grew very quickly and was very unco-ordinated. These facts were constantly drilled into me by people around me. At some point early in the journey of life, I made a choice to perceive encouragement as something negative. The consequences of my own actions in combination with the pressures of others around me, I made myself feel self conscious about my size.

When I was younger, my mother insisted in taking us kids hiking and to Scottish Country Dancing classes. As I got older, I was encouraged to play softball, basketball, and to go to summer camps. By the time grade six and seven came around I wanted nothing to do with sports. I felt I was being forced into sports because I was fat rather than for enjoyment. It felt like a chore.

I spent the last three years of elementary school at a private school in Hamilton, Ontario. Many private schools have a heavy emphasis on athletics, and Hillfield-Strathallan College was no excpetion, whether this was an advantage or not. Had I attended a public school, physical education would have been a joke.As a kid, I did not have much interest in athletics. This was for a number of reasons:

  • As stated above, I grew so quickly, I was extremely uncoordinated.
  • I had no sense of competition, or I didn’t see any reason to be competitve.
  • Given the competitive athletic nature of the students and of the school I was at, I did not feel like I fit in to an athletic program.
  • The school I attended was very much into running, soccer and basketball. Running seemed like a torture and I was always the slowest, trying to keep up. The three years of running in Phys. Ed. classes, it never did anything to help me speed up, and certainly did nothing for my self esteem.
  • I was constantly ridiculed by kids in my classes. Face it, everybody gets ridiculed but being the biggest, most uncoordinated, and slowest kid in the class, I got more than my fair share.

What kid would not want to pack it in? Despite all of this, I believe my experiences did help me to understand and to become more competitive, several years after the fact.

I received encouragement from teachers and immediate family, however I never thought they were being genuine. Why? As far as my immediate family was concerned, I was always big or fat and they certainly let me know it. They would try to encourage me and then point out how fat I am – not terribly inspiring, and the possibilities and benefits beyond losing weight were never discussed. If my family were doing this, then my teachers were coming from the same place. My interpretation was that I needed to be encouraged because there was something wrong with me; that I needed to get involved because I had to lose weight or something. I was not ready to deal with my own personal issues.

  • As a kid I was always an outcast, and I often made myself the outcast. I always found it difficult to get along with people – especially if I was being picked on.
  • Being over protected, I had no idea how to deal with kids who picked on me, which made me quite a push over .
  • I turned myself into a geek – I LOVED my computer and was practically inseparable from it. On the other hand it was all I really had since we lived in the middle of nowhere. It was the one thing I excelled at.
  • I wasn’t allowed to have many friends over, and if I did make friends my control freak of a grandmother often destroyed my friendships.
  • As a kid I was quite stubborn. If I did not want to do something, I didn’t. If I was interested, I would rush into it.
  • I was incredibly impatient.
  • I was forced into various activities and very rarely went on my own freewill. Very rarely did I have a choice.

Despite this, there were times where certain people I trusted gave me the encouragement I needed, which actually felt good and I actually belived in it.

Something that was lacking from the cirriculum is the fact that there is much more to sport than running around – soccer, jogging, basketball, etc. While I believe these are great sports, it fosters the idea that to be athletic means participating in aerobic/cardio based activites, which is the fursthest form the truth. I remember, at one time, some of the other kids in my class being allowed to use the weight room at the school. I was definitely interested but it’s a shame the teachers wouldn’t let non-athletes to use the weight room.

All of these elements combined to have some major impacts on me at that time. The attitudes of the parents will affect how the child reacts. If you treat children with respect and guide them in a positive manner, children will make rational choices. If you don’t treat children with respect, and expect them to think the same way you do, you are inviting the child to rebel.

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