It Ain't Easy

Very few phrases fill me with dread and/or irritation as the response, “Oh, it’s EASY!” And it bugs me on two separate but related levels.

I had this colleague who was very smart but I don’t think she recognized her own intellectual gifts. When I would ask her for help, she’d say, “Oh, that’s EASY.” It was as though, if SHE could could do it, it must not be all that special. But, in fact, it was, and in her profession, she is now quite accomplished. It seems that she has recognized the value of her talent.

The other version is when a techie or someone doing something technical or mechanical says, “Oh, that’s EASY.” Implicit in this one is that “anyone” can do it it. Well, obviously, they don’t know ME. While I have mastered which end of the hammer is the one you generally hold, there is nothing in this arena that comes easily to me. If there are four ways to put something together, but only one correct way, you can be sure I will have tried at least two of the other three first. I have absolutely no innate spatial reference capacity.

And it also extends to my absolutely DREADFUL capacity for remembering names. I’ve tried all the tricks. Someone named Mr. Dole is wearing a pineapple shirt; I’ll remember him as Mr. Pineapple.

Now there ARE some things that I do do easily, but I don’t assume that others can, or should be able to do the same. I specifically remember 9th grade algebra, which I was rather good at (97 on the final – I’m also pretty good at remembering numbers generally). There was a particular problem that this kid Sid was trying to do on the board. The teacher was trying to explain it to him, but he just wasn’t getting it. Then she let me try, and the light bulb went on in Sid’s head.

What got me thinking about this was the daughter in kindergarten. She’s fairly smart. Her teacher is having the students spell out the words phonetically, and she knows most of her letter sounds. What happened last month was that she spelled the words incorrectly, of course, and burst into tears. Her mother and I had to emphasize the fact that English isn’t easy.

I mean I am a pretty good speller. A lousy typist but good speller – 100 on my 5th grade final (really) – but I don’t know if I ever knew WHY most words were spelled as they are. Why do “giant” and “jelly” have the same starting sound? Or “cat” and “kitten”? Or “school” and “skill”? The silent e has some rationale – long vowel sound – but what about the silent b in climb or silent g in gnu, the latter of which appears in one of her picture books?

She HAS mellowed since then, but does have a perfectionist streak that doesn’t seem to come from either her mother or me.

“Well all the people have got their problems
That ain’t nothing new” – It Ain’t Easy

It Ain’t Easy by David Bowie video. “Dedicated to The Big Easy with much love.” ROG

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