Better a Tree


Better a tree than a hunchback, dear, and if you don’t pay attention to your posture, that’s what you’ll turn into.

Reading these words in Margaret Atwood‘s The Blind Assassin triggered a memory that took me right back to being 10 years old, taller, I think, than anyone in my fifth grade class.  Vaguely, I remember hunching my shoulders, stooping, to appear the same height as my classmates, especially the boys who, if memory serves me correctly, were shorter than most of the girls.

Stooping must not have been well received in my family because someone, my aunt, mother or grandmother, said often, “If you don’t hold your shoulders up, you are going to grow into that position.”  At the time those words fell on deaf ears.  I wasn’t thinking about later, only the present, and I didn’t like being the tallest in my class.

When did my attitude change? One day, my aunt and I were on a bus and a youngish, attractive woman got on.  She was stooped, whether by nature or accident who knows.  My aunt whispered in my ear, “That’s the way you’re going to look if you don’t stand up straight.”  Well, that did it, no more hunching over for me no matter who I was taller than!

Today, I am a tree, not stooped or taller than most people, but having been reminded so many times to stand up straight, I’m a stickler for good posture. As my girls and hubby well know, I’m often guilty of telling them not to slump.  Guess what?  Their ears are as deaf to that advice as mine were at 10.

Just wondering, what childhood pointers have stayed with you over the years?

By the way, The Blind Assassin is one of the most beautifully crafted books I have read in a long time.  Put it on your reading list.

i love your thoughts, so jump right in and share yours

11 thoughts on “Better a Tree

  1. Loved The Blind Assassin… as I have all of Margaret Atwood’s works. As for posture correction, my mother would tell us to imagine a string that came out of the top of our head and to imagine pulling that string up in the air thereby pulling our body high…and our spine straight. Over the years, we would just pull our imaginary string at the table and all six of my sisters would follow (laughing)…. but we all ended up sitting very upright. My girls….as well as their cousins…. all were reared with this ” trick” to remind them from hunching their shoulders.

  2. Oh, my, are stories are the same except I did not see the stooped woman on the bus. Wished I would have! Now I have shoulder issues that I deal with every day. Yoga for the past 5 years has improved my posture, but still hav rounded shoulders that need tender lovin’ care! Wish I would have listened to my great aunt Faye…

  3. Pretty is as pretty does.
    Don’t forget to wash behind your ears. Otherwise, you’ll grow potatoes there. I still think of that each time I shampoo my hair.

  4. When I was twelve, I wore a back brace for two years for kyphosis/scoliosis. (I’m sure sitting curled into the corner of the sofa with a book pressed against my face for the first 12 years of my life didn’t help. 😉 )

    Now, I am very conscious of my posture. My 100-year-old aunt is still walking around like a soldier, shoulders back, back straight, head up. She’s a great reminder of how much better you look with proper posture.

  5. My mother thought I was a dreamer I guess because she always said “if wishes were horses, you would have a stable full”. Guess what, I have a stable full because a lot of my dreams came true. I don’t think it is so much the dreaming but working to make them come true.

  6. 1. I love Margaret Atwood.
    2. I am almost 6 ft. tall, recovering slumper!
    3. My advice seems to fall on deaf ears as well when it comes to my 4 kiddos.
    4. I now love being tall, thanks to my super cool and very tall 5th grade teacher!
    Thanks for a lovely post!
    Kerry at housetalkn.blogspot.com

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