I’m an uneducated person.
I can read things and understand them.
I can read things that I don’t fully understand and they will make sense to me.
What I can’t do , is explain my understanding of things.
I can’t explain just how things make sense to me.
I can’t explain the meanings of things I understand, in ways that make sense to others.
I lack the ability to communicate.
So I stay quiet...
Ask me questions and I can probably answer them, but don’t expect me to start or carry a conversation.
I can’t do it.
Even after many years “talking” to people at the checkout, real conversation doesn’t come easy to me.
I fake it. I make stuff up.
If you say things convincingly enough, people will believe you.
When you’re only with them for as long as it takes to pack their groceries and take their money, what does it matter?
But discuss politics? Economics? Things you’ve read in the newspaper?
It’s all out of my league.
Because I don’t understand those things.
They’re all celebrity gossip, which I don’t care for, so I can’t discuss that either. Why would I care how many pairs of boots someone buys? How many times they’ve switched boyfriends or husbands?
Before my checkout years I worked in factories.
I was on “the team”, but I was alone in the middle of the crowd.
Suited me just fine.
Before that I was at home, raising the kids, until the youngest was in school.
I didn’t socialise, the endless gossip of the neighbours seemed pointless to me.
I did try, there were occasional Tupperware parties, school tuckshop days.
But I was always afraid of being laughed at, afraid they’d think me stupid, because I couldn’t comfortably talk to them much past saying hello.
I was much more at ease at home alone with my babies. And my books.
Fiction. Always fiction. To escape.
A little background is probably necessary here.
All through Primary school I just drifted through my classes, much like I now drift through my life.
The work seemed too easy for me, I didn’t have to try at all, I rarely bothered with homework.
My dad always said I didn’t have to do it. As far as he was concerned, schoolwork was done at school.
He was also convinced that education should be free, including excursions, which I never went on, because he refused to pay.
There were no sports or other extracurricular activities either, unless they were free. Of course they weren't, which left me with the library or the beach. And I was happy enough there, in my own little world.
I’d been raised not to question my parents. (Or any authority figure really).
They weren’t bullies or abusive. They loved us all.
But my older sister was born retarded, (the term now is mentally challenged), and to keep her safe, she was taught to do as she was told always, and not to question why. Being almost four years younger, I just naturally followed along. With a younger brother who had mild epilepsy, the two of them needed much more attention than me, so I learned to stay out of the way.
I learned to read early, by listening as my sister struggled for years, with Dick and Dora, Dick and Jane, books kept me out of trouble.
By nature I was easy going and lazy, like my dad.
When my mum left us on the eve of my eighth birthday, she took my brother and sister, and I was raised by dad.
He’d leave for work in the mornings and set the alarm clock; when it went off, I’d get up, eat something and go to school.
I was alone, but I was happy. I was never lonely.
I had my Library books and my imagination.
Back to my school years.
My dad didn’t really see education as being necessary for girls who would only grow up, marry and then have babies.
(In his youth, that’s what girls did..)I suspect he didn't finish school himself.
So without words being said, I understood that when I reached school leaving age, I would leave. And I did.
I'd enjoyed high school. The learning was a challenge, which made it fun, unlike primary school, where I'd breezed through everything.
I loved English. History and Math were interesting, Science was fun.
But I didn't really try.
What for? I was leaving at 15.
When career options were discussed at high school, I didn’t pay much attention. I didn’t see why I should think about finishing high school, then going on to university for even more learning, just to get a job for a while until I married.
I knew nothing about money or saving or how much better my future options would have been. Such things were never discussed at home, certainly never with me. (Men earned the money, women looked after the home and kids).
Add in the fact that I was also shy, didn’t make friends easily, why would I want to stay at school, amongst people I couldn’t talk to?
So I drifted on through life, drifted into marriage, eventually growing apart and divorcing.
Without higher education I wasn’t qualified for any job better than factory work.
Life became a little harder, but I coped.
Go back to school you say?
Not so easy. There wasn’t money for schooling, night school was out of the question, not only because of the lack of cash, but also because I’d never learned to drive. Factor in the laziness and lack of communication skills....
Besides all that, I’d never got the “study habit” so important to real learning.
Things don’t “stick”.
Things I hear and learn don’t stay with me.
Not the important stuff anyway.
I know now, that the way I grew up isn’t a good way.
Education and learning, staying in school to better my chances and get a career, instead of “just a job”, would have been a better way.
If I’d been pushed, I would have done it.
But I’d grown up lazy, and been allowed to be lazy , and that’s a hard habit to break.
By the time I wanted more from myself, I was at home with four children.
So here I am, still drifting…..
Low On The Milk Of Human Kindness
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