When I was around 5, my mom bought a whole set of Winnie-the-Pooh books for me and my sister. I loved those books. For some reason, I started with Now We Are Six. This book, along with When We Were Very Young, is a book of poetry. I'm not sure why I started with poetry. Maybe because it reminded me of nursery rhymes. But I read that book to shreds...literally. Mom bought me another copy a year later.
I memorized the poems. I started with "Wheezles and Sneezles." I loved the play with language, the attitude of Christopher Robin when he got better. "And the look in his eye, seemed to say to the sky, Now how to amuse them today." That was so...edgy...for a child who tried very hard not to break any rules.
Every time it rained I opened up to "Waiting at the Window,"a poem about two raindrops racing down the pane. I imagined the raindrops on my window were just like John and James.
Eventually, I moved onto the stories. I don't remember anyone reading them to me. I just picked up Winnie the Pooh at the beginning. It was the first book I ever read where I found myself. Piglet was the frightened little girl who tried so hard to be brave but really needed others around to help her. Christopher Robin was the smart girl who could solve all the problems in school but just wanted to play outside with her stuffed animals. Rabbit was the worrier, always concerned about what others think. And then there was Eeyore.
Eeyore was so me it was scary. How could anyone really know how I felt? Eeyore always saw everything as gloomy and against him. That was me. The world was against me and no one cared. And I walked around sulking and no one cared. But, every once in a while, Pooh cared about Eeyore. He cared when Eeyore needed a home. He cared when Eeyore had a birthday. He cared when Eeyore lost his tail. I had my Poohs also. My mom, who didn't seem to see much, was always there for the really hard times. My sister, who was too busy to really pay attention to her younger sister, let me sleep with her at night and protected me from the bullies in school.
As I became an adult, Winnie the Pooh just stuck with me. I carried the books to college, to my first apartment, to my house. I bought a new set for my classroom. I bought a set for Ali when she was born. I have read the books to my students. Second graders love the books for the characters. Fifth graders love the books for the hidden jokes that the younger children don't get.
So I decided to finally get a tattoo. I always imagined myself as very radical...crazy. Wild hair, tattoos, riding a Harley, going into a bar and asking for a shot of whiskey. But I am still that girl who doesn't really like to break the rules. I hate whiskey and would never take a shot of it. We had a bike, a Honda, not a Harley, and I was always terrified we were going to be hit so we sold the bike. The craziest thing I do is get my toenails painted blue and green. I am over 50 and way too conservative. So I went for it. A tattoo. Nothing radical. But a way for me to keep Pooh with me always.
I thought about getting Eeyore. He is most like me. But I am not that little girl anymore. Not mostly. Today I am more like Pooh. I will be there for my friends and my family. I will think about them. I will care about them. I will treasure them. Pooh is also simple in his ideas but they are the most brilliant. I think I am like that. My ideas are not complex. But they are fun and engaging.
Today I am Pooh. So it is a Pooh tattoo I got. I will always remember feeling like Eeyore but I don't want to be him anymore. I want to be Pooh. The tattoo will remind me of that everyday.