Thursday, January 21, 2010

A Rat's Dreams in the Year of the Tiger

I am a rat. Often charming, compassionate, idealistic, and adaptable. But I can also be verbose, possessive, bossy, anxious, and opinionated. My sister is a monkey – curious, creative and smart. My sister is the one who informed me that I was a rat. She introduced me to Chinese astrology and now I diligently check my seasonal home feng shui, keep my golden rooster on my desk for success and read my monthly horoscope. I like being a rat – in the constant up and down of life, monitoring my rat well-being lends some stability and control.

Plus, my husband is a rat too. And in a spectacular turn of good fortune, my daughter is a rat as well. We are a family of rats and in the Chinese astrological realm, that is a very auspicious achievement.

So on the scale of things being a rat is pretty good.

I am also a baby buffalo and occasionally a bunny.

I apparently had a cute nose as a child. Clearly, I outgrew it. But the nose begat the name and I am forever known in the family as bunny. As the youngest there are perks. There are the obvious ones - you get away with a lot, you are doted on, you get out of a lot of responsibilities. But you also remain perpetually 7 years old in the eyes of your family. Thirty odd years, a law degree and a daughter of my own later and I am still “Bunny” to my mother in the middle of Nordstroms.

And it is not merely Bunny. It is Buh-uh-ny. My mother was born and spent her early years in Kentucky and raised the rest of her life in Richmond and Tidewater Virginia – she is southern through and through. You may think that Bunny has two syllables but you would be wrong, it has three. And my high school and college friends still crack themselves up when they call out “Hey buh-uh-ny!”

I think of all the animals I am in my life I am most proud to be a baby buffalo. I must confess that this moniker was given to me in frustration. I was a child with my own ideas, a young adult who was polite but did things her own way and an adult who has her own mind. It was my mother who called me baby buffalo and it was not like being called bunny – there was no cuteness implied.

While a strong, independent woman herself my mother is not overly thrilled with dissension in the ranks. When we were little she told us lightning would strike if we moved from whatever spot we were told to sit. I, however, questioned everything and am not one to take things at face value. This did not go over well. I am, shall we say, inquisitive with a large side of suspicion. As a child I argued with Walter Cronkite during the evening news and cornered my mother’s cocktail party guests to debate the wisdom of Reagan’s policies. I determined which homework assignments were a blatant waste of time and refused to do them. This went over even more poorly in my family.

Thus, the baby buffalo emerged. Some families have black sheep, mine has the baby buffalo.

While I strongly believe in order and the necessity of laws and rules, I am passionate about making sure everyone can participate in something as comfortably and effectively as possible for that individual. I do not find standardized anything to be an effective assessment. I will push back against the norm and against the very idea that just because this is how it is and always has been, is how it should be. How do you know that doing it differently won’t net you better or more interesting results? In law school I obtained a spot in a highly coveted 3L seminar taught by the dean of the law school. The seminar required weekly papers but I felt I could better express myself through epic poems. I convinced the Dean and got an A in the seminar. To this day my husband, another law school alum, still blanches at that story.

Now that I am a mother myself with my little rat family, I think a lot about the parallels of my life and what my daughter’s life will be.

She is an only child and with that comes the inevitable frozen in time perception that she is my itty bitty forever. And so I imagine in thirty years I too, will find myself standing in the Point of Vue department at Nordstroms calling “Boo-ooo, come see this great dress!”

My daughter is already a rat through and through. She is charming – complete strangers will stop us on the street to tell us she is cuter than their grandchild. She is adaptable – sleeping through touchdowns at a Penn State football game is no small feat.

But the animal I really hope to see her cultivate is the baby buffalo. I can see the characteristics are in their nascent stages – when she holds her hand over the cat food dish – not touching it as she knows she is not supposed to, just hovering, demonstrating that she’ll not touch it in her own way. She is a passionate personality who, will debate, using her tiny vocabulary, the finer points of things with you with great seriousness and not rest until you respond. She will study a puzzle toy then take it apart and put it back together correctly once – but then she will spend the rest of the time putting it together in different ways. I cheer her on in exploring the different and unexpected.

And I fully expect I may not appreciate the baby buffalo when she is thirteen but I hope that she will appreciate that I understand the importance of being a baby buffalo in life.


February and March are comfort months - comfort food, comfort clothes - this sweater is perfect!

1 comment:

  1. Intuitive, giving, loving and extremly enlightning.
    Ah... too be able to write. Those that have the gift, give those of us who do not enjoyment for the ages.
    Thank you.
    Looking forward to the next addtion.