I learnt the truth at seven that praise was meant for neatness queens. (Apologies to Janis Ian).
Belinda, my best friend in second class, always looked beautiful, never had one hair out of place, had clean finger nails, and had a 24 pack of Derwent pencils. I sat next to her and envied the effortless way she coloured in so carefully.
My page had smudges, was creased, and I could never keep within the lines no matter how hard I tried. Belinda was the teacher's pet; her work was displayed on the wall of fame. My teacher always compared by messy page with Belinda's work which was worthy of framing. I knew I could never be like Belinda.
My crime was being born a girl into suburbia in the 1960s where boys ate puppy dog's tales and were encouraged to be wild and dirty creatures. Girls were made of sugar and spice and were expected to be neat, clean and polite. Belinda was the neatness queen and I was cursed with the untidy gene.
Despite being constantly criticised for being messy, I loved primary school where I liked maths and composition. Did I get praise for my compositions no, I was advised to slow down, take care with my work. I learnt that it was better to be neat than correct.
What my teachers and classmates failed to understand, no matter how much time I took, how hard I tried I could never be as tidy as my peers.
Now I know I had the untidy gene. Back then I blamed it on the messy elves who would come and put smudges on my work, move my ruler so my margin was crooked, and they would put a spell on my pen to make it barely legible.
I ask all the people with neat genes to be more understanding of those of us who are not as lucky.
Parents, grandparents, aunts and uncles and teachers please remember that nagging children to be neat will not make them neater but will affect their self-esteem.
Help your child who tends to be messy by encouraging them to be creative.
There have been so many other genes discovered to explain behaviours. I hope the truth will lie in the discovery of the untidy gene.
So, do you have the untidy gene or were you lucky to get the neat gene?
If you have the neat gene are you impatient with untidy people?
A Moodscope member.
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