Most of us have some interesting past experiences that have left us with some sad scared selves needing attention in the present. A lot of mine stem from my strange education. Happy Noodle Girl is a product of school 1. The me who doesn’t like slow progress, it turns out, is a product of school 2. This was the school where I started at age four and everyone else was at least seven.
I was chatting to a friend about my pattern of having to change HUGELY AND IMMEDIATELY or not at all (which usually = not at all) and I realised that at school 2, I was either great or terrible at all subjects, to the extent that I wasn’t really learning in any class. I was either mucking about while people learned things I already knew, or mucking about while people learned things I couldn’t imagine being able to do. Which was painful, but it also gave me a sense of specialness because I was the only kid allowed to spend music lessons sitting under the grand piano or netball lessons collecting conkers.
I realised that my fear of slow progress might be a fear of not getting to be special and not getting to play while everyone else works – which is interesting, because progress would actually lead to MORE of those things. My friend invited me to talk to the me who didn’t like slow progress, right there in the chatbox. So I did.
She came out talking in ALL CAPS and quoting everything, from Mary Poppins and Winnie-the-Pooh to some very grown-up books that she definitely had not read (Wuthering Heights and Stephen Fry’s Making History, which gave us the line, ‘Oh sure, like on Mars…’) I thought about putting in ‘me:’s and ‘her:’s after the fact, but it’s very obvious who’s talking without them!
so, could I talk to the part of me who doesn’t like slow progress?
YES PLEASE DO!
oh, you’re going to talk in all caps? That makes it easier to tell who’s who, and it sounds like you really, really want to talk to me!
YES BECAUSE YOU WON’T LISTEN!
Oh, I’m sorry I haven’t been listening to you. I’m listening now, please tell me what’s up
YOU HAVE A GREAT LIFE RIGHT NOW. REALLY!! EVERYONE ELSE HAS TO KEEP MOVING AND YOU GET TO STAY THE SAME
EVERYONE ELSE HAS TO MOVE UP A YEAR AT THE END OF THE YEAR
YOU GET TO STAY IN YOUR CLASS DOING YOUR LESSONS
SITTING ON YOUR SPECIAL CHAIR THAT’S SMALLER THAN EVERYONE ELSE’S
wow, okay, so it sounds like you really need, um… consistency? Things staying the same?
ME STAYING THE SAME
YOU STAYING THE SAME
OTHER CHILDREN LEARN, YOU STAY THE SAME AND DO YOUR OWN SPECIAL EVE THINGS AND DON’T HAVE TO FOLLOW THE RULES
AND DON’T HAVE TO GET RED PEN AND CROSSES ALL OVER YOUR WORK BECAUSE YOU’VE DONE THESE LESSONS THREE TIMES AND YOU COULD DO THEM THE FIRST TIME
so it sounds like you really don’t like rules and being corrected?
RULES AND BEING BAD AT THINGS
EXCEPT WHEN YOU’RE SO BAD YOU DON’T HAVE TO TRY BECAUSE NOBODY EXPECTS ANYTHING OF YOU
in my current life, as a grown-up, nobody (mostly) expects me to cope with time or money or work, because I’m ‘Eve’
YOU WANT TO BE NOT ONLY A GROWN-UP BUT A D-GRADE GROWN-UP WITH RED PEN ALL OVER YOUR GROWNUPNESS BOOK!?
IT’S SO MUCH HARDER! AND SHAMEFUL AND EMBARRASSING, I MEAN OTHER PEOPLE’S WORK IS REALLY BAD!
HAVING SPECIAL PERMISSION TO NOT TRY MAKES IT OKAY!
okay <3 I’m noticing something as you say that
there were times when it wasn’t okay for you, weren’t there?
I remember one games lesson when you just crawled under a bench and hid and people ran past and pulled your knickers down
and why were you under the piano in music lessons?
I LIKED FEELING THE VIBRATIONS
did you also want to feel safe and away from everyone else?
I FORGOT THAT
ALL THIS TIME I THOUGHT IT WAS REALLY NICE UNDER THE PIANO
well, I think it was, because outside the piano was not so nice
WELL IT’S NOT GREAT BEING UNABLE TO SING A NOTE IN TUNE. BUT BEING YOUR OWN SPECIAL PERSON IS BETTER
are you afraid that if you try, you’ll lose your identity?
YES, I’LL BE THE WORST DIRTIEST SHEEP IN A GREAT BIG FLOCK OF SHEEP
INSTEAD OF RIGHT NOW, WHEN I’M A GOAT. OR A DOG.
AND OKAY SO IT’S NO FUN BEING THE ONLY PERSON OF MY SPECIES, BUT ALSO, I’M THE ONLY PERSON OF MY SPECIES!!
AND THE WONDERFUL THING ABOUT TIGGERS IS I’M THE ONLY ONE… RIGHT?!
oh, love :/
IS A DOG FURRY?!
would you like to be able to connect with other people, and be part of a group, while also being special and unique and the only one of you?
WELL SURE, LIKE ON MARS, IN THE VALLEY OF THE BIG ROCK CANDY MOUNTAIN WHERE EVERYBODY SKIPS AND JUMPS AND BAKES CHERRY PIE FOR STRANGERS!
you don’t think that’s possible for you?
I’M SCARED IT’S NOT. HOW WOULD I KNOW, I DON’T CHANGE!!
so not changing is really keeping you from getting this thing that you really want
let’s think about it in your terms…
when Tigger comes to the Hundred Acre Wood and makes friends with all the other animals, he’s still the only Tigger, isn’t he?
and everyone is happy to work with him to find out what Tiggers like, and to give him what he needs
EXTRACT OF MALT!
and he still bounces, doesn’t he??
YES!!! BOUNCE BOUNCE BOUNCE!!
sounds like you’re happy about that
YES BUT HOW DO I… I DON’T KNOW HOW TO PROCEED. I DON’T KNOW HOW TO LEARN!!
you learned loads before you were at school, that was part of why you felt so alone AT school
OKAY BUT THAT WAS BACK ON MARS WHEN CHILDREN WERE ALLOWED TO LEARN WHAT THEY FELT LIKE BECAUSE THEY FELT LIKE IT
ADULT LIFE IS SO MUCH MORE LIKE SCHOOL
WHY ARE YOU CRYING?
because most adults don’t know any better
they got so thoroughly sent to school that they sent themselves to school for the rest of their lives
and OF COURSE you don’t want that for me!
I don’t want that for me either, in fact I don’t want that for anyone!
I want everyone to be free from school for ever and ever!!
ME TOO!!! OH GOD ME TOO. IT’S NOT FAIR. PEOPLE AREN’T SUPPOSED TO WORK LIKE THAT AND I WANT TO STOP IT!
I WANT TO THROW DOWN ALL THE SCHOOLS AND BUILD HOUSES. FARM HOUSES WHERE PEOPLE CAN PLAY AND LEARN ABOUT ANIMALS FROM THE ANIMALS THEMSELVES
NOW WE’RE BOTH CRYING!!!
we both want the same thing, don’t we?
YES OF COURSE BUT I WAS SO LITTLE, HOW COULD I CHANGE IT? ALL I COULD DO WAS NOT JOIN IN
well, now we have all this power that we can wield
BECAUSE OF BEING A GROWN-UP?
SOMETHING IS BREWING
yes, something is brewing, about to begin!
CAN’T PUT MY FINGER ON WHAT LIES IN STORE…
but I feel what’s to happen all happened before!!
THE WIND’S CHANGING AND MARY POPPINS IS COMING BACK!!!… WHY DID I SAY BACK?
we’re going back to how it used to be, ‘on Mars’ if you like
YES I DO LIKE!
learning like there is no school
and no red pen
there are no bad marks
nobody is marking you
it’s not about doing it well or doing it badly
NO IT’S NOT!! DID MUMMY EVER GIVE ME A TICK OR A STAR FOR READING A BOOK OR LEARNING ABOUT SOMETHING? NO BECAUSE I WANTED TO DO IT!! I DIDN’T NEED A STUPID PAPER STICKER TO ENCOURAGE ME1!
okay, so we’re going to learn what we want, how we want, right?
WHAT IF WE DON’T WANT TO LEARN ABOUT MONEY?
well.. we’ll get an accountant
HAHA.. A WIZARD OF FINANCE!!
yes, that’s exactly it!!
and.. you know what else?
THIS IS HOW WE TEAR DOWN THE SCHOOLS!
THIS IS HOW WE TEAR DOWN THE SCHOOLS INSIDE PEOPLE!
IF PEOPLE SEE ONE PERSON WHO IS NOT AT SCHOOL, THEY’LL SEE THAT IT’S POSSIBLE TO NOT BE AT SCHOOL FOREVER!!
BEING UNDER THE PIANO IS STILL BEING AT SCHOOL!!
BEING IN THE SAME CLASS OVER AND OVER IS STILL BEING AT SCHOOL!!
GETTING LOTS OF TICKS AND TEN OUT OF TEN IS STILL BEING AT SCHOOL!
IT’S TIME TO LEAVE THIS SCHOOL!! FOREVER!!
omg… yes!! Thank you so much!!
I KNEW WHAT TO SAY
AND YOU LISTENED!!
you’re really happy that I finally listened, aren’t you?
I’VE BEEN A WAIF FOR THIRTY YEARS!!!
love, I’m so sorry
IT DOESN’T MATTER NOW, LET’S GO FLY A KITE!!
woohoo!!!! Let’s go!!!
(epic tearful and excited hugs)