As a child, I was horrifically clumsy. Seriously, I could trip over air. My family called me souvenir for years, because I left pieces of myself wherever I went. If I was a child now, my parents would spend all their time being followed round by child services. But the simple fact was, I was a clumsy little git.
There’s a huge amount of scars on my body, some of them are for another days tale, but today is the long, tawdry list of my childhood mishaps. This is the kid that once managed to injure herself in an empty room.
My father served in the army, which meant my sister and I grew up on a barracks, normally in Britain, but we did get to do other places, some of them, I’m lucky enough to remember. Or unlucky enough. We learned how to ride our bikes in a plane hangar, around oil drums. My dad used to say that the hardest thing about learning to ride should be the floor. He was right. We learned, real quick.
We spent some time in places like Germany, Switzerland and The West Country. They’re the perfect places for young children, sort of. We went, as a family, for a drive in Switzerland. I don’t remember but mum regularly regales passing family with our problem with Switzerlands winding mountain roads and dad’s driving.
You can see this panning out already, can’t you?
My dad couldn’t.
Take two small children, stuffed with Swiss food and chocolate, now add a high, winding mountain pass. Throw on a splash of army loony driving and the inevitable equation works itself out. It probably would have been fine, but mum pointed out to dad that we were going a funny shade of green, he should slow down. Slow down? This virile army man? Hell, no, speed up, that’s the way.
The barracks, surrounded by soldiers all day, everyone knew everyone else, and everyone knew everyone elses kids, which made accidents a little hard to forget. I rode my bike past one of the main gates, and braked. Or rather tried to. The brake had slid round to the bottom of the handle, and I panicked. Cue one small, scared little girl going headlong into mostly bush. What wasn’t bush was curb. Ouch. One of the guards pulled me, and my bike, out of the flora, turned me right way up. He was laughing the whole time, by the way, I think I was about 7, there was no skin that wasn’t shredded to buggery. Grazes are the worst pain ever, they were then anyway, and by that logic, I was the hardest kid on the barracks.
THE FLOOR IS LAVA!! You know that game, floor is lava, don’t touch. But for some reason, all the furniture and magazine stepping stones don’t burst into flames. Odd. Yes, the magazines, the kind with the shiny, and above all, slippery covers. I was leaping from ‘stone’ to ‘stone’, mum chirped up “you’ll slip, don’t do that”. Would I listen? No. Again, inevitable equation equals child sliding across the carpet, slamming into a wall and screaming like a stuck pig.
Off to A&E, mum in tears, me screaming.
Definitely a broken arm, I can’t move it, every time mum touches it, a demon takes over my voice and lets loose with some primal screaming therapy. Lazy Sunday afternoon my arse. The doc finally appears.
Then arrives my moment, my time to shine, my Broadway career starts here. Drum roll please.
My doctors face fixed the bone, any god you like be praised, I’m cured! My mum pulled a very embarrassed, and rather angry face, but thankfully, the doctor understands.
Off we go home, but not to the ‘hooray, you’re cured’ ice cream I had hoped for.
But the flagstone, oh, the flagstone. It was a beauty. I was a tomboy, which meant I simply had to examine all those nasty, dirty, dangerous places my parents didn’t want me near, with wild abandon.
Cue The Flagstone Stack.
This stack, which dad had to prepare for our possible incoming patio, (oooh, how exciting), leant against the side of the house, perfect snail and beetle home. I went exploring, pulling the flagstones towards me.
And promptly dropped said flagstone on my foot.
Hooray, more screaming, this time, no stuck pig could have matched it, no demon has ever made, or heard, anything so soul-wrenchingly awful. My poor mother and god-mother were in the kitchen, preparing dinner, which ended up on the floor, when the hell-spawned screech hit them. I didn’t know they could move that fast.
Thankfully nothing broken, but I did get a ride in a wheel chair. That was fun.
I’ve got the standard scars on knees, elbows and chin. From escalators, walls, cars, bikes, dogs, cats, tree climbing, school fights, climbing frames, 2 swimming pools and a dozen flights of stairs.
But my favourite one, it’s a doozy.
It used to run right round my tongue, but sadly, with growth and repair, it has shrunk to just take up the middle of my tongue, and still fits my teeth. Running round the garden, still learning to walk properly, tongue hanging out like a dog on meth, and I promptly prove my mum right, again.
Trip, splat, cut, scream.
Mum looks up to see my bimbling towards her, covered in blood, but not really crying, just babbling. Thanks to the gap I had in my front teeth, and my not yet grown canines, I just managed to avoid slicing my whole tongue clean out of my mouth, just.
The doctors couldn’t sew it, couldn’t repair it. My despairing, beleaguered mother had to push food to the back of my mouth, and hope for the best. It healed, and now I have a conversation starter, provided the meeting starts with my poking my tongue out at people.
Halfway through writing this, I went to the loo, and tripped over the cat, thus adding to the bumps on my head, and the dent in my pride.
Le sigh, still a clumsy child inside.