U is for Uncoordinated

24 Apr

a-to-z-letters-uYes, ladies and gentlemen, that would be me. One of the most uncoordinated people you’ve ever come across. In Australia if you’re uncoordinated you will be forever dubbed with the taunt “Unco!” Helas, that was me in school (probably still is).

The plain, unvarnished truth is that I have ZERO hand eye coordination. Maybe my kindergarten teacher should have spent more time teaching me to build lego. I don’t know. What I DO know is that you’re odds are better of winning the lottery than betting I’ll catch something you throw at me; be able to hit a ball with any form of bat or racquet, and forget my ever being able to colour inside the lines or even cutting out a shape along the line.

If I close my eyes I can recall the horror of being the Wing Attack during netball (Americans, I know you don’t play this game so please go Google it) and knowing I wouldn’t be able to catch it when someone threw it at me. Same horrors with hockey in England. I was also usually on the wing (what IS it about P.E. teachers always putting me on the wing?) and usually made sure I was running in the opposite direction to where I should be going. Have YOU ever been whacked on the shins with a hockey stick? Much better to run in the opposite direction.

In primary school I was much fought over when it came to picking teams. Oh the squabbles and the fights over me, which went something like this:

“We don’t want her. You take her!”

“No way. YOU take her!”

And so it would go.

Now apparently there is a logical explanation to why I am so UNCO, and it stems from the fact that I had childhood epilepsy. Because that supposedly REALLY screws up your brain. Or maybe it was the Dilantin that screwed me up? Who knows. I don’t think it matters in the grand scheme of things because it’s not like you can yell in the playground: “Hey, don’t throw that ball at me. My epilepsy will make me unable to catch it!” No. Best to remain silent. And suffer the scars.

Because, let’s face it, when you’re in school (especially in high school), nobody cares if you were on the winning debating team (I was); or if you were the best at drama club (according to the teacher I was); or if you won a Public Speaking Eisteddfod (I did). No, what was important was the sports you played. You should have heard the cheers when the boys or girls teams won their basketball/cricket/netball/football matches. Not a peep for us swots.

And of course there was the ritual humiliation of school sports carnivals – both the athletic and swimming carnivals. There  we’d be, divided into our Houses (Americans, thank goodness Harry Potter came along to explain houses). I’d be with Hillel House wearing our House colour (red) and dreading my turn on the field or in the pool. Unfortunately, one of our House teachers would rally us before the meet and bellow at us that we’d jolly well better sign up for every race we could because “YOU GET ONE HOUSE POINT JUST FOR JUMPING IN THE POOL!” The pressure to support your House (especially from this particular teacher) and win the carnival was immense. And that is how I came to have my terrible results listed in the local Jewish newspaper. They listed the 1st, 2nd and 3rd place winner. I came in 3rd! Me! Of course there were only three of us in the race. Hence my abysmal time printed in the Jewish News. And we won’t even mention that the other two finished WAY ahead of me and the entire school was standing around and waiting for me to finish my laps so that they could start the next race. The horror of it all! No wonder I became a writer.


And it extended beyond sports. I have spent my life tripping/falling/walking into walls/spraining limbs and collecting bruises. My Dad once came home when I was little and said “Kelly, I have a present for you.” My sister protested that wasn’t fair. But Dad said she wouldn’t want the present. He was right. He’d bought me a box of bandaids because I was always getting into some kind of scrape.

We also won’t mention when I got my foot caught in the Ferris Wheel at the school fete when I was 9 and tore the ligaments in my foot. From then on Dad called it the Fete Worse Than Death. Sigh. My mother was afraid to send me off to camp because every time she did it usually landed up with a phone call home saying “Meet us at the coach with a pair of crutches for Kelly.”

Today, I wear my Unco badge proudly.  I still fall and bruise and scrape and walk into walls.  I politely decline tennis matches with friends and many laugh when I say “Oh no, you DON’T want to play sports with me. Trust me.”  They don’t believe me. But now, you – just like me  – know  better.


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