Grounded For Life
I’m an introvert. I’ve always been an introvert. I can’t point to any single reason why I’m so introverted. I can enjoy a good conversation, but I often find that I prefer seclusion. Maybe it’s because I’m hearing impaired and I tend to go inside for peace. Or maybe it’s because I’m a very active listener. That requires juice to run. Maybe I get tired around people because I expend so much energy processing what people are saying.
If I had to point to one reason why I’m such an introvert, I’d say that being grounded for what seemed like an entire summer after the 7th grade is a big part of my introversion.
I used to have monumental battles over homework with my dad. I didn’t have very much fun in school. I just saw it as something I had to do. I was teased, excluded, and in general, had a very difficult time making friends. I had no models for friendship. I didn’t know how to make friends. No one really showed me the way. And that was piled on top being partially deaf to the world.
I think it was around 7th grade that I really started to slack off on my homework. I just didn’t want to do it. No one showed me how to be disciplined with homework. Somehow, at the end of the school year of my 7th grade, my math teacher sent a note to my parents saying that I was way behind on my math homework.
I can’t even remember having any confrontation with my parents about it. I just remember being grounded. No TV. No stereo. No phone. Just me, my portable 8-track tape player and two tapes: the soundtrack to the movie, “2001: A Space Oddysey” and “Out of the Blue” by Electric Light Orchestra. And a pile of incomplete homework assignments.
I’m a little bit teary as I write this because all I can see is page after page of math problems to solve, and all I can hear is the song, “Turned To Stone” by ELO. I still know the words to many of the songs on that album. I get weepy when I try to sing them in front of my wife or my kids. I can’t sing along to those songs on road trips.
There was no one to help me. No one to talk to. No one to show me the way. I was grounded for life. That’s what it felt like to me.