Monday, June 11, 2012

The Girl with the Squirrel Tattoo

The squirrel tattoo is never going away.

It serves me right, I suppose. “They have tattoo-removal lasers, Mom,” I said, after she told me that the only people who get tattoos were sailors and guys in prison named Wayne.

But I gave up on those lasers after only two of my possible four $64 tattoo removal sessions (a deal I snatched up on Groupon a few months ago). It hurts too much.

There’s just enough residual squirrel that if someone were looking at my left foot, just below my ankle bone, and cocked their head to the side and squinted their eyes, they might ask, “How’d you get that scar?”

And then I’d have to tell them about the squirrel. It’s a boring story, really.

The squirrel was my dad’s idea. When I was about 10, he told me I was like a squirrel. He said I was trusting of people, but only up to a point. I’d almost believe something someone was saying, but then at the last minute, I’d not believe them, I guess? Either that or I liked to run from tree-to-tree on college campuses? I can’t say for sure what he meant. Neither can my dad.  He doesn’t remember saying it.

But his observation struck such a chord that nine years later, when my college roommate and I decided to get tattoos, there was no doubt in mind as to what I’d have permanently etched into the side of my foot (because no one would ever see it there). (They would.)

We walked to Fry Street Ink in Denton one night, and about 90 minutes later, I walked out with a brown squirrel, outlined in black, on my foot. My roommate chickened out.

I was scared to death to tell my dad, thinking he’d be the mad one and my mother would blow it off. It was the other way around. My dad shrugged it off and said something along the lines of “It’s your body. You can do with it what you want.”

But Mom was disappointed. The squirrel was just the latest episode in a string of events over my entire life to demonstrate that I was not always going to do what she wanted me to.

I tried to make her feel better by saying my tattoo wasn’t as bad as the dolphin one my older sister had gotten on her waist (I just fronted my sister out AGAIN!). But that didn’t make Mom feel better.

Now that I have a 4-year-old daughter, I’m starting to understand how my mom felt. It hits me every time she wants to wear that worn out pink t-shirt with the screen printed kitty cat and three specs of glitter that have somehow survived three thousand rounds of laundry. She’s just not going to wear what I want her to every single time.

This is how it is with mommies and their baby girls. This tension between unrealistic expectation and perfectly fine reality will always be there.

I’ll eventually come to terms with the kitty cat shirt. I’m pretty sure my daughter will grow up to be a contributing member of society despite it.

Melanie Medina is a Senior Communications Specialist at Texas Health Resources.

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