Self-Portrait #14: Symbols

Blog 11 x 14 Childhood Teddy When my best friend adopted her son from Korea, she also adopted a tradition. On his first birthday, they place some objects before him and what he grabbed first was supposed to reflect what he would become later in life. I wonder what this would mean for my niece. The other day she carried a zucchini with her from her house to her cousin’s birthday party. When her parents asked her what she had she announced “Zoo-keen-ah!” Perhaps she’ll be a chef when she is older. She also carries balls with her everywhere and has been fascinated with them for the last few months: “bawl, bawl, bawl” is her frequent refrain. An athlete?

When I was little, I surrounded myself with stuffed animals. My “teddy bear” (in reality a stuffed boxer puppy named Sam) was my constant companion. When I got older I even took him to school with me. I still have him today. When I look back at my baby pictures I am not surprised to frequently see a number of the same animals around me – a yellow bunny in blue bloomers, a red hound, and of course, Sam. So what did this say about me? Was I destined to become a vet? A taxidermist (stuffed animals, get it?) I became neither, but it’s not surprising to me when you compare my baby picture on the bed with the adult one, that you now find me surrounded not by my stuffed animals, but by live ones. From the time I was a little girl, I was a nurturer, a caregiver and someone who didn’t like being alone. My two pugs satisfy all those needs: They give me something to love and nurture, to care for and keep me company. I was destined to have something to love by my side.

And, so who knows where my niece will be years from now? I googled the symbolism behind zucchini and stumbled upon the web site, My Islamic Dream. It says the meaning of a zucchini in a dream is similar to that of a gourd, squash or pumpkin; they represent a scholar or a trained physician who cares about his patients. A doctor, huh?

There are always clues in childhood to what we may become. When my grandmother first gave me Sam, she called him a Teddy Bear. She even made up a rhyme about him, “Sam the bear I am that eats the jam.” But as I said, Sam was not a bear, he was a dog, and it is not with bears I spend most of my days, but with dogs. They are the things for which I reach. They help define who I have become.

blog 11 x 14 Adult Teddy