Cartwheels and a Brain Theory

I have this really unformed theory about my brain.  Something about getting better in one area and getting worse in another.  Like I have this finite brain power, and I can be good at math, for instance, unless I want to learn French, or something, and then I start to suck at math.  Or maybe this is just a theory about multi-tasking.

Anyway, this is what happened:

Last week, Kid #1 asked me if I knew how to do a cartwheel.  She wanted to learn.  And I thought of course I know how to do a cartwheel.  Geez.  So I cleared some space in the playroom, attempted a cartwheel, and pulled every muscle in my lower body.  This was distressing.  I used to be able to do cartwheels.  Also, Kid #1 was not impressed.

So then I started freaking out a little – I mean, I was pretty sure I could do a cartwheel.  Ten years ago I could definitely do a cartwheel.  Were there other abilities I’d lost over the last ten years?  I didn’t even have to think that hard.  Ten years ago I could read Latin.  Right now the only thing I can think of is e pluribus unum.  Oh and quid pro quo.  This does not qualify as knowing Latin.  Ten years ago, I could do complex math.  Now I work hard at calculating the tip.

I know what you’re thinking: Wow, you were a total nerd!  Well, yes.  But at least I was a nerd who could do cartwheels.  But then I thought about all the stuff I’ve learned in the past ten years: like how to write a book, and then how to write a book that makes sense, and, hey, I had two kids and they’re turning out pretty all right, so I’ll go ahead and add parenting to the list.

So my theory is that maybe it’s a trade.

Math for writing.  Latin for writing well.  Cartwheels for kids.

I guess the saying is true: you’re never too old to learn.  But there’s an addendum: you’re never too young to forget.  Or maybe this is just a warning about the necessity of practice and commitment and the dangers of complacency.


Oh, by the way, Kid #1 is going to Gymnastics class instead.