Thursday, October 28, 2004

… Said the Fish in the Pot

It's not quite the same as tasting a madeleine*, but reading The Cat in the Hat has re-ignited a memory for me.

Sean loves The Cat in the Hat. I admire the word play, of course, but the book stresses me out. You know the fish in the book, that nagging embodiment of anxiety as the Cat wreaks havoc? That's me. I completely identify with the poor fish. What a nightmare scenario: home invasion, no parents, wanton destruction of property.

The fish especially reminds me of my grade-school self. I was the ultimate Miss Goody Two-Shoes. I never, and I mean never, got in trouble. I got good grades and was always quiet and shy (and a complete social reject, but that's a post for another day).

My classmates were largely rambunctious troublemakers. In my Catholic school, punishment was meted out en masse---even if only some kids were misbehaving, everyone in the class had to write the spelling words 100 times. I hated this environment and hated (most of) the other kids. I would grow tense every time the teacher left the room, silently wishing that everyone would just sit down and be quiet, for heaven's sake. I was never a tattle-tale or snitch, but the psychic toll of stewing in silence was not inconsiderable.

Even now I am battling the unsavory side of this personality trait: a tendency to go with the flow, to be the good girl, to never upset anyone. Sigh. How will I motivate my kids to question the status quo and follow their bliss if I am the Queen of Nonconfrontation?

*Okay, okay, I've never actually read Remembrance of Things Past, but I see no reason to let that stop me from trotting out this overused literary allusion.