Later in life, the cry of “Mom, I’m bored!” might be met with “Bored, eh? I can think of things for you to do…” (involving housework I didn’t want to do, generally) but in early childhood, there would be suggestions – “Go make something!” “Read a book!” “Go outside!”
I spent a lot of time on the floor crafting, coloring, weaving on my potholder loom. In general, I sat spatchcocked, in between my knees with my feet splayed out to the side. No one told me this was a problem until I reached teen age. I learned then that this is very, very bad for your knees. My mother would sometimes say “that doesn’t look very comfortable, Robbin.” But it was! I loved sitting that way. I could get close to the floor and lose myself for long periods of time in whatever I was doing.
In my times of boredom at home, I had learned that I could stand, pick up my right foot and then bend my knee and my hip out to the side so that my toes could touch my ear. Picture an arabesque gone wrong and you’ll know what I’m talking about. This move never failed to gross out anyone who saw me do it in that “oh, that’s awful – do it again!” sort of way. I loved the attention, so I did it whenever asked at ballet class breaks or at school.
Doing homework at my desk, I had a habit of grabbing my little toe with my free hand and gently holding it, which had the effect of pulling it out to the side. Eventually I learned that I could move my pinky toes at will. I can still do that one.
It was many, many years before I learned that my “party trick” repertoire was attributable to Ehlers Damlos Hypermobility Syndrome. I could dislocate, flex, and move many joints in my body in ways that don’t make sense to most people. Back then, I just knew I was very flexible and had the ideal body for ballet and gymnastics. And finding unusual new bends for my body to do kept this creative kid occupied and out of trouble.
In finding a way out of boredom, life’s slow time, I inadvertently set myself up for years of pain, surgeries, and now, a knee replacement. Still, those quirky moves are a part of my history. I wouldn’t trade them or my flexibility as I age for the difficulties other people have. I earned my knee replacement – as a friend commented recently, it’s the sign of a life well-lived.