After participating in a versatile hour-and-a-half game of Apenkooi a.k.a. the Monkey Garden organized by my company, I remembered something I hadn’t thought about in years.
It sucks being a kid. Double that if you’re an adolescent.
Remember those kids that could not hit an elephant with ball from two meters away? Or those that could never do a handstand or a belly roll?
They were always picked up last when they were forming teams and their tracksuits were always either too small or too big, and worn.
They used to hang out around the pitch terrified of being in the action, and screeched anytime the ball came near them but did not talk much otherwise.
I remember those kids all too well. In my year there was one, and it was me.
School was a tough experience. One I could not wait to be over. But we will get back to that.
No matter how much weight I lost, or how many crunches I did at home, regardless of the fact at some point I was 16 and weighed 15 kilos less than I should, my athletic prowess always was the same. Afraid of balls, more like terrified of anything that came at me with speed. Not to mention I could not follow the rules of the game and play it at the same time. Fortunately, in my school group activities were not enforced during gym class, and I say fortunately because sadly, for me it is not something that “would get better with practice”.
I couldn’t fathom why it was so hard to do stuff in a group. It was not being on display – that I found out I enjoyed after many years in the local theatre group. If I could perform in front of people, why couldn’t I catch a ball in front of them?
I just labelled myself as uncoordinated and went on adulting, where it was not asked to catch a ball in any circumstances.
Fast forward 15 years, a fully trained aerialist in good condition decides to join the apenkooi. I was 100% sure that it would be enjoyable as I am in the best shape of my life.
Long story short, after I was the first to put out of the game on every round, I realized I was once more the fat kid in the gym. But how can that be? I was in as good shape or better as my teammates, what the hell?
The answer is simple. ADHD. Which I didn’t know that I had but it is what makes me not being able to function with people running around me, not being able to run and jump obstacles at the same time, not being able to follow the rules while playing unless I know them by heart.
As I was not diagnosed in childhood, it was easy to assume I was ‘stupid’, ‘dysfunctional’ and ‘uncoordinated’, words I used mostly on myself. Truth be told, the kids then we’re not gentle either, and the name calling happened quite often. That was the big difference with nowadays, and what helped me relax : the teammates tried to help me instead of mocking as they knew I had to win too for the group to win. In childhood this is easy to forget, as our hormone flooded brains urge us to push to be the best of our team, and not our team to be the best.
It is quite hard to be a kid after all, despite what grownups think. Those ‘carefree’ years are 100% subjective, and kids can be really cruel as they don’t realise the impact of their words. And the toughest part of this is that as kids we lack the knowledge to understand what is really “our problem” or the compassion to embrace it in ourselves and others.
That is why when you’re an adult it’s much easier to be the fat kid in gym class.
I wish I knew it back then so I could tell myself it will get easier. On the other hand, it’s kind of nice knowing it even now.
Happy exercising folks.