Files of a Clumsy Child – Kicking a Hole in the Wall (While Pretending to be a Figure Skater)

Do you know when I started liking figure skating?  During the Tonya Harding/Nancy Kerrigan scandal, of course.  Didn’t everyone? I was nine-years-old and highly intrigued by all the gossip.  My mother and I discussed it a great deal, and I would even do an imitation of Nancy Kerrigan screaming, “WHYY?” after getting hit in the knee with a iron club (I was a terrible, terrible, terrible child).

Intrigued by the gossip, Mom and I started watching the 1994 Winter Olympics, and were hooked.  My father and brother would groan whenever my mother and I would find a skating competition and sit in front of the television for several hours watching it.  I loved the costumes, the music, the grace with which the skaters moved.  (As you can tell from this blog, grace is a quality that I sorely lack.)

My obsession probably peaked during the 1998 Winter Olympics.  It was such a showdown – Tara Lipinski versus Michelle Kwan!  I was fascinated by the jumps – triple axels, triple loops.  While watching the Olympics, I saw one of the contestants prep for her jumps off-ice and watched her execute a perfect loop without her skates on.

“That looks easy!” My thirteen-year-old self did not have any concept of the immense training these athletes had to undergo since they could basically walk to pull off a maneuver like that.  Since it looked so simple, I was determined to learn.  I decided that I could practice my jumps myself.  After school, I would go into the backyard, run around backwards, and try to perfect my jumps.

God, this is so embarrassing.

I became obsessed with practicing my jumps, especially since my concept of self-awareness was still developing and I had no idea how stupid I must have looked.  I practiced my jumps everywhere – outside, in my room, in the hallway (when no one was around).  One night, I decided to try a jump.  I paused, pulled my leg behind me as I had seen the skaters do on television, and jumped.

BAM.

“Jennifer Nicole, what the hell was that?” my dad called from the kitchen.  Note that this house was very small, so there was no hiding the noise I had made.  “Uhhhh,” I stalled, and looked down.  To my horror, there was now a hole where my heel had punched the wall.

There was no escape now.

My dad walked into the hall, bent down, looked at the hole, and then looked at me incredulously.  “How did that happen?” he asked.

Okay, so about me – I was the perennial good girl. I never lied, especially to my father.  And now I was very nervous.  I couldn’t come up with a plausible story to fool my father.  So I told the truth.

“I was pretending to be a figure skater and was jumping around.”

He looked at me and then started laughing.

My misadventure spread through the household very quickly, which was unfortunate, since it gave my then nine-year-old brother perfect ammunition to make fun of me.

The hole remained in our house for the remaining eight years we lived in it.  Eventually, the teasing about my being a figure-skater wannabe stopped, and everyone else seemed to have forgotten about it.  But not me – until we moved, that hole was an embarrassing reminder about my brief foray into the world of fake figure-skating.

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Files of a Clumsy Child – The Dangers of Stuffed Animal Tags

Today I took a First Aid course at work. I always enjoy them because learning about different lifesaving techniques is fun, even though I certainly hope I never have to use them.  It’s an opportunity to be silly with coworkers as you mime lying motionless on the ground as they assess why you aren’t “breathing” (though I failed at that completely, as I was laughing too hard).  The lame acting on the videos is always a treat too.

As I’m sure you have gathered by now, I’m a fairly clumsy person, so taking a first aid course is beneficial just so I know what to do in the very likely event that I injure myself.  For instance, as I was watching the lesson about burns, I remarked, “That guy is dumb” because the actor was juggling two cups of coffee in one hand when they spilled and burned him. This is coming from the same person who, just several months before, burned herself because she grabbed a hot pan that she had just taken out the oven moments before.

Watching the various first aid emergencies depicted in the video reminded me of the fun I put my parents through as a clumsy child.  I have an entire list of them in my misadventures tab, with the promise that I eventually will blog an entry for each one. You know what? It’s time to start.

I’ll start with…the time I was trying to lose my index finger from lack of blood supply.

I distinctly remember that it was nighttime and that my mother was pregnant, so this had to have been 1987. I was three-years-old and playing in my room with my stuffed animals.  My dad was watching TV downstairs, and my mother was relaxing in their bedroom, about ready to go to sleep.

For some reason, I decided that twisting the tag on my stuffed teddy bear around my finger would be a great idea.  So I ran around my room, twisting the tag around my index finger.

I then noticed that the tag was wrapped around my finger pretty tightly.  I tried removing it but had no luck.  Since I was three and thus stupid, I had no idea that this was a bad thing.

At some point, my dad must have noticed that I was quiet, because he came by my room.  “What are you doing, Jennifer?” he said.  “Look Daddy!” I said and thrust my index finger in front of me with the teddy bear attached to it.

My dad took a look at my finger.  I can only imagine what must have been running through his mind – Are all toddlers this stupid?  Maybe the second one will be smarter.  Maybe she’ll grow up to be pretty, at least.

“Come here,” he said, and I followed him to his bedroom.  My mom was reading a book, her pregnant tummy making a round shape in the covers.  “What’s going on?” she asked.  My dad showed my mom my finger.  I don’t remember her reaction, but my dad must have calmed her down, because I don’t remember her participating in any first aid.

Luckily for me, my dad was either training for first aid at that time or was about to train to be an EMT.  Either way, I was in good hands and he knew what to do.  He took a small pair of scissors and gingerly cut the tag off my finger.  It was starting to turn a different color.  Maybe blue? My memory is only so good…I want to say it turned blue, but then I think my dad would have been more freaked out about it if it had.

My dad applied first aid and then had me stay up with him so he could monitor my finger.  I remember snuggling up next to him, watching TV and feeling special because I was allowed to stay up so late.  My finger was fine.  Crisis averted.

The next day, my mother went in my room and cut off the tags on every single one of my stuffed animals.

Next time, I’ll share how I tried to kill myself at age two by sticking a key into an electrical outlet.

 

A Trip Down Halloween Memory Lane

First things first – are you all familiar with the site I’m Remembering?  If you grew up in the 80s or 90s, get ready to waste half your life on this site.  You’re welcome!

Looking at 80 pages of this site put me in a nostalgic mood.  Since it is (almost) Halloween, I thought it’d be fun to share some Halloweens of yore with you.

1985

I have a weird memory.  I have to write all my action items at work on a list or else I’d forget my responsibilities and get myself fired.  But I remember the most random things from my childhood – where I was when I first heard a song playing, or memories that should have been way too early for me to remember.  My first memory is from a plane.  My parents were changing me in the tiny stall; there was some turbulence, and I remember almost falling.

When I recounted my memory to my mother as an adult, she frowned.  “There’s no way you remember that,” she said.  “That happened when we moved from Italy to Virginia.  That was March 1985.  You were only eight months old. You probably just remember us telling you the story.”  BUT I REMEMBER IT, MOM.

So that’s my first memory, but since my mother continues to insist there’s no way I can have any recollection of that event, here is my first “official” memory.

This is little Jenny, Halloween 1985.  I was fifteen months old.  (SEE? I WAS BORN A BLONDE).  I wonder whose idea it was to dress me up as the devil? Maybe Dad’s. I love it, especially since it’s a nickname my family gave me after I would get strong laughing fits during Catholic wedding ceremonies (it’s the way the priest would just start singing spontaneously and so earnestly…how is that not funny?)

I don’t remember much of that night, but what I do remember is hiding behind a couch. My sole mission was to sneak up on my dad, who was sitting on another couch. It’s funny, because I can remember my thought process from that time – even though I couldn’t verbalize my intentions, I remembering wanting to remain hidden – it was Operation DON’T LET DADDY SEE ME.  I thought I was so sneaky, apparently not even realizing that my mother was snapping away photos of my not-so-covert mission with the Polaroid.

1989

This was the second Halloween I was spending with Patrick, who was not quite two.  I was really excited because my kindergarten class was going to wear costumes to class on Halloween and participate in a parade.

So when did I tell my parents that I needed a costume? The day before the parade, naturally.  My poor dad had no idea back then that this was just an early warning sign that his oldest child was going to be a big procrastinator.

After a couple of, “Why didn’t you tell us that a week ago, Jennifer Nicole?”s, my dad promised that he would get me a costume.  Back then, he used to be a volunteer EMT on his days off, so he promised he would get me a costume while he was on duty that night. I remember going to sleep, excited about what my dad was going to bring me.  It was almost like Christmas! Would I be a princess?  A Barbie doll?  A witch?

When I woke up the next morning, my costume was on the kitchen table.  I looked at it.  “Super Mario?” I said, frowning.  This was not a girl’s costume.  My mom said, “That’s what happens when you wait until the night before to tell us that you need a costume.” Then she guilted me by telling me that all the girl’s costumes were gone by the time that my dad went searching for the costumes.  He and his EMT partner had gone to several drugstores to look for the costume.  This costume had really been the only one he could find, but Mom told me that he had been excited to see my reaction to it.  Even at that age, I knew better than to act ungrateful, so I dutifully suited up in my costume.  It was your standard red Super Mario uniform with a plastic Mario mask.

It wasn’t until I arrived at school and saw all the princesses and witches and Barbies in my class that I began to appreciate being different.  I was the only Super Mario in my class, and I marched in that parade with pride.

Later that night, Dad took Patrick and me trick-or-treating.  Hell if I know what Patrick dressed up as (unfortunately, we do not possess photographic evidence of Halloween 1989).  Besides being a budding procrastinator, I was already a huge sugar fiend.  I ate as much Halloween candy as I could when we got home, then promptly threw up in my Super Mario mask and all over my costume.

1991

We had a little Halloween party in our second grade class.  It was your standard fare – Halloween-shaped treats, classroom games that the kids loved and tested the patience of all the adult volunteers.

My teacher took Polaroid photos of the party, and somehow, I was able to get one in my possession (I don’t know how I got it.  My second grade teacher was mean and I definitely was not her favorite student).  I’m on the far left.  My neighbor Emma is on the far right, and Sarah is the unfortunate mummy (you can tell by her expression that she’s having so much fun, right?) I love this picture because it perfectly illustrates how horrendous early 90’s fashion was.

Let’s analyze this outfit, shall we?  First, I’m pretty sure those are high tops that I’m wearing, and I see that I’m rocking the horrendous neon colors on my shoelaces that were so popular back then.  I’m wearing acid-washed mom jeans with suspenders – why were my jeans so high?  Where was the flood? Why am I even wearing suspenders? WHAT THE HELL IS THIS OUTFIT?  WHY, MOMMY, WHY?

1992

This year, Mom and Dad thought it would be fun if we stayed home and handed out treats.  Rather than spending money on costumes, we rummaged through our parents’ clothes and decided to wear whatever item we liked.  (This is probably why I never buy my costumes now).  I asked my mom if I could wear my wedding dress, and, here’s how cool my mom is – she had no problem with her hyperactive eight-year-old wearing her wedding dress.  It is a gauzy creation from the 80s.  I put on some earrings and dubbed myself a princess.  (I guess I felt like I had to make up for my tomboy Halloween of ’89.)

My brother decided to be a pirate.  My mom tied a bandanna around his head, then pulled out a gold hoop earring.  It was completely innocuous – the stereotypical pirates wear one earring on their ears, and I guess my mother wanted my brother to have the complete pirate experience.  No one really expected Patrick to flip the eff out.  He was not even five years old, but even back then he knew how to stand his ground.  He didn’t care if pirates wore earrings; he would not be wearing one tonight, thank you very much.  Mom cajoled him, insisting that there was nothing wrong with wearing an earring, that boys can wear earrings. Patrick stubbornly refused.

I’d love to say that Patrick stood his ground and won, a triumph for toddlers.  But…I can’t remember who won that argument. And when I asked him tonight, neither could he.  “I know we have a picture,” he said.  “I’m just not motivated to find it.”

I kind of think my brother would kill me if I posted the picture of us from that Halloween.  Actually, what am I saying?  If I had the picture on my computer, I would totally post it.  But since I don’t, let me describe how we look.  I have my arm around Patrick, my mom’s wedding dress worn over a clearly visible Little Mermaid’s shirt.  I wear a grin on my face while my chin is tilted at an unnatural angle.  (I went through a stage where I posed with my chin tilted upwards, so all pictures from that year make me look like I have an Adam’s apple.)   My brother has a hand on his hip, his little chubby face smug as he smirks for the camera. Perhaps he wears an earring in his ear; perhaps he doesn’t.

Now

I’m going to risk sounding forty years older than I actually am, but I’m so grateful to have grown up in the generation that I did. I really feel like mine will be the last to remember how things used to be back then,  when computers and cell phones didn’t rule our lives.  Halloween was spooky and scary and fun.  The Halloween specials (Garfield, Charlie Brown, Tiny Toons) were required viewing.  We’d watch them while eating candy and feeling the cozy chill of autumn.  We looked forward to watching the Disney version of The Legend of Sleepy Hollow and get terrified (or was it just me?)

It’s so easy to get wrapped up in the responsibilities and stresses of being an adult…but sometimes, all you need is a little walk down memory lane to remind yourself to remember what’s important – family, friendship, love, and the cozy anticipation of a spooky holiday.