I had this plaque in my room when I was growing up. My parents must’ve given it to me. I recently gifted it to my older son who thought it was just…weird. It had a Tennyson quote on it that read, “Once in a golden hour, I cast to earth a seed. Up there came a flower, the people said a weed.” I told my friend about it today, lamenting yet another rejection notice I’d received. She was stunned. Not that I’d gotten the rejection. I mean, she likes my writing and all, but rejection is a part of the biz. No, she was visibly dismayed by the plaque. “Why would anyone give a child something so…negative?” She asked.
“I never thought of it as negative,” I defended. “Just an accurate state of the world. I knew from a very young age that life would be full of naysayers who wouldn’t necessarily appreciate my artistic vision. As an artist, that kind of personal and societal awareness has served me well.”
“Really?” She inquired. “Perhaps it was more of a self-fulfilling prophecy. I mean given all the motivational quotes in the world, why didn’t they put up a photo of Henry Ford that said, “Whether you think you can or whether you think you can’t, you’re right.” Kids are very impressionable, you know.”
She then admitted that her folks had hung a large picture of a can-can dancer in her childhood bedroom, complete with pouffy red crinoline, black bustier and fish net stockings. “And what did I do?” she challenged, “I became a Rockette.” It’s true. She really did become a Rockette. I had to concede. It seemed like more than mere happenstance.
I heard this author on NPR the other day say that boys named Dennis have a significantly higher likelihood of becoming dentists. Really? I mean the words do in fact sound alike. Could that really be a way of subconsciously directing an offspring’s career path? The author also said that Larrys were more apt to be lawyers. My friend, Barry, is a lawyer. Barry…Barrister. Hmmm??? I wonder if you named your kid “Imogene” if they’d be destined towards Radiology. I once knew this old lady named “Honey.” She was definitely overweight. Are most “Rosenblums” florists? What about “Dicks” are they disproportionally flocking to the field of Urology or private investigating? This opens a whole new world of possibilities for our children.
I did notice (only recently) that the letters in my son Levi’s name can be rearranged to make the word “L I V E.” That was pretty cool until a pal pointed out that with yet another letter shift you got the word “E V I L.” Damn. I even screw up subconsciously.
The point is that everything we do, say, or hang in our kids’ rooms really does matter. That’s like my worst nightmare. Translated, it means I really do have to obsess over each and every not so great parenting moment. Argh! How can a person live knowing this?
I once met this woman at a party. My kids were tiny. Hers were grown. I was in some state of distress over where to send them for preschool or something. She put her arm around me and took me aside. Then with the calmest, most assured voice I’d ever heard she said, “Debra, all of these little decisions you’ll be faced with over the years, the minuscule choices you’ll have to make, Just remember, every single one of them…matters more than you can ever know.” She then smiled and wandered back to the bar to refill her Cosmopolitan.
I sat there dumbfounded for a moment. Did she really just say that? Was she trying to curse me? I think I left the party shortly thereafter, no longer in a particularly festive mood, now that I was shouldered with the weight of the world. But just as I got into my car to set out for home, I remembered that this prophetic woman’s name might hold the key to her enigmatic comments. Her name you see was Lucy. Hmmm…sounds a lot like Lucifer, don’t ya think?