It is said that we learn from our mistakes, and I’d have to agree. It is probable 90% of the wisdom I’ve acquired, I’ve learned the hard way. The most wearisome lessons were frequently founded in nothing other than my own poor judgement.
Take the time, for instance, when in elementary school, I decided physical education classes were not only unnecessary, but also humiliating to boot. I was never a great enthusiast of team sports, most especially when the volleyball always seemed to find my head as the primary target. Nor did I see why my future was dependent upon my ability to climb the gym rope. When Mrs. Wilson* brought the tumbling mats out, and I kept rolling off on my side, instead of executing the tuck and roll somersault to her standards of perfection, my preadolescent brain decided to go on strike.
My plan of action was simple. I would simply come down with a series of mysterious ailments, which would keep me from dressing for class. This inspirational revolution began with a headache on Monday. By Wednesday’s bell, half my body was in its evil clutches. By Friday I could barely walk through the door.
It seems however, that Mrs. W. was not nearly as lame-brained as I had thought. By Wednesday, she was suspicious. By Friday, she had my number. The following Monday when I attempted to convince her I must be suffering from some dreaded unknown Asian flu, she confronted me.
“Mary, there’s nothing wrong with you. Now are you going to dress for gym class or not?”
“Well, it depends, Mrs. Wilson. What exceptional torment were you planning on putting us through today in the name of physical education? Mountain climbing? Free falling? Or something a little more mundane, such as painting a big red target on my forehead, and then passing out the croquet balls?”
Stalking off in anger, she let me sit the rest of the semester out in the bleachers, where I happily completed all my homework each day. I was in a total state of glee. I had tackled the gym teacher on her turf, and won. I pitied the poor, dull-witted souls down there sweating and grunting, as they tried vainly to satisfy the relentless demands of the whistle-blowing sadist.
My pity for my fellow classmates however, dissipated quickly, and irrevocably turned inwards when I received my semester report card. Sure that all my hard work in the bleachers had paid off enormously, and happily viewing straight A’s in the important classes, imagine my horror to find an enormous red F penned in beside Phys. Ed.
Seething, I swore my revenge. “Just you wait, Mrs. W., I’ll make you pay yet!”
But first! “What to do about this grade? I must find a way to make it disappear before my parents see it, or I am kitty kibble for sure.”
Panic mode set in, and before I knew it, my hand acted independently from my brain. Grabbing a red pen from my desk, I neatly added an extra side onto the F, effectively turning it into an A.
Immediately, the ramifications of what my misguided hand had executed set in. Sure, I might pull off the falsification at home. Mom might not notice the rather boxy looking A, but what about when I turned the report card back in?
As it turns out, my mom didn’t notice the forgery, but the ensuing six weeks in between semesters were hell on earth. As feared, the next report card I was handed to take home not only had the F reinstated in a bold black marker, a note in the teacher’s comment area informed my parents of my previous indiscretion. I didn’t sit comfortably for a week or two after the truth was found out. As extra punishment, I had to be Mrs. Wilson’s helper for an entire semester, which was made even more painful by her continuous smirk.
So you see, what seemed like a great idea to protest Physical Education, and rebel against authority didn’t turn out to be very wise after all. As Cousin Woodman stated, “Good judgement comes from experience, and experience--well, that comes from poor judgement.” I am thinking it sounds like a rather vicious circle.
Not that my future depends on it, but to this day I still can’t execute a somersault, climb a rope, and am seeking treatment for a volleyball phobia.
*Name has been changed to protect the innocent; namely me.