Armed with Rick Green’s two concepts of Hyper-focus and hyper-fixation, I can review my own past bad behaviours, pre-anorexia, searching for exculpatory evidence that I’m naturally made of sub-standard material. Then I can plead insanity.
For a start, there’s the homework. I didn’t do a stroke of work at home after about year 7 (1st year of secondary). I wasn’t rebellious or rude. I just took the detentions with good humour. I’ve always assumed I was just a thoughtless and weak-willed little oaf whose parents didn’t push him very hard. However, my own children seem far more able to apply themselves than I ever was, although the external drivers are no greater for them.
I always assume that the quality of human experience in others, it’s essence, is identical to my own. That’s the definition of empathy, right? – acknowledging the self-hood of others. That leads me, though, to think others have the same conceptions, the same values and the same limitations as I do, that they see the world in similar terms. I’ve only ever got as far as the first and most primitive stage of concept of mind. Everyone else has gone on to develop highly sophisticated understandings of the intense, varied and vivid life of other minds, while I’m still congratulating myself for working out that they aren’t automata.
At school, I viewed any work-activity that demanded self-motivation with absolute horror – homework, revision, research: any unsupervised work – I felt like I was suffocating. It was intolerable and I was frantic to escape it, twisting and squirming, trying to claw my way free, like a ferret drowning in a sack.
I still feel that way, to this day, so you can imagine my astonishment when my own children march into the kitchen and say, “Right. I’m going to do my French homework now – get it done.” I think, “Whose child is this!? How could I have sired such a one?”