Her face suddenly contorted and transformed into a grimace like I’d never seen before. Rage in her eyes. Sheer fury in her voice. She belted out words. I don’t remember exactly what they were.
I was young at the time, 7, maybe 8. The woman stood yards away from me, opposite me with a shock of white hair reminding me of Cruella Deville. I remember it well.
I wasn’t used to being shouted at. I was timid and reserved and wouldn’t say boo to a goose so this roar of rage was something new to my young ears.
She was my SEN teaching assistant and for half an hour every lunch time at least, my throwing and catching partner. I spent most of my time at this age watching in awe and amazement as every pupil around me in PE lessons performed these mesmeric feats like catching a ball or jumping over a skipping rope like it was the easiest thing in the world. Arms throwing the rope over their heads and as the rope swooshed towards their feet, not one but both feet jumped over the rope again and again. I’d look down at my feet as my rope would thud into my shins and feel a pang of helplessness, look up again at gleeful, happy faces content with their rhythmic excellence.
Her bark of anger hit and, as the last venomous syllable hit my ears, I saw her put her hand to her mouth.
These lunch times weren’t your standard. This was one-to-one throwing a catching to help me catch up with everyone else. Me, Cruella D’Ville and a dense sponge ball.
The balls would fly through the air and I’d throw up my arms wildly to catch but time and again the spherical sponge would evade my grasp.
Throwing was a bit better. Not much better but I felt i was had control of ball’s destiny. Now, just a matter of determining how hard to throw.
I learned three things from these sessions that I will never ever forget. One, I was different. Two, I would never stop trying and finally, her words. The words that spelled out something that made sure I brushed my teeth that bit more rigorously the next day.
Adult teeth do not grow back!!