I am a role model, only in reverse for little white girls everywhere. Or at least around this neck of the woods.
So I am at class setting up a (neighbor, friend, acquaintance, woman who wants to work for me) shows up with her daughter and dog in tow. Another friend of mine is there one I have known for oh, I dunno, 10 plus years.
(let’s change the names to protect the guilty)
“Kathy – do you see what is on Janet’s arm”?
“Do you know that is NOT magic marker and someone sticks sharp needles in her arm to make that”. (her wide eyed four year old looks a little anxious)
“You shouldn’t scare her”, I said.
“I am NOT scaring her, I want to talk to her about something”.
(Ok, ok whatever…I am thinking to myself)
“It is OK for Janet to have something like that BUT YOU can never have something like that”.
I was completely and utterly flabbergasted and dumbstruck. “At least not until you are an adult and can make your own decisions” — I growled out.
“YOU CAN NEVER DO ANYTHING LIKE THAT” exclaims Mommy. My other friend says “all you can have are this kind…and she pretends to lick a stamp and stick it on her arm”. Mommy smiles “oh she doesn’t even like that kind”. They share a chuckle at my expense.
WTF?!! I just stood there…when I replay the event in my mind several other alternative responses on my part are rehearsed.
“Kathy when you grow up your Mommy does not want you to be like me — a happy, well adjusted, passionate adult person with real interests and genuine pursuits. Who owns a house, a business and takes care of herself. Instead your mommy would like you to be like her…a closet case, boring, bored, miserable stay around at home with kids mom who does nothing but bend my ear about how unfulfilled she is. You can be just like me or just like your mommy – just DON’T get a tattoo.”
“Kathy do you know what this tattoo is of? It’s of a koi fish…the Buddhists (that’s another religion besides Protestant) believe that humans swim through the suffering in their lives just as a fish swims through water. This symbol right here is the Buddhist symbol for compassion Buddhists believe true happiness comes not from a limited concern for one’s own well-being, or that of those one feels close to, but from developing love and compassion for all sentient beings. Here, love means wishing that all sentient beings should find happiness, and compassion means wishing that they should all be free of suffering. The development of this attitude gives rise to a sense of openness and trust that provides the basis for peace.”
I LOVE my tattoo it says exactly who I am, it also tells me exactly who you are and today it revealed a great deal to me about my friends and neighbors.
And next time – I won’t smile quite so silently or maybe that was exactly the right response.