Tuesday, October 12, 2010
My Swan Song -- A Story of Motherly Devotion
You hear mothers say they would jump in front of speeding trains for their children, but would they jump in front of a hissing swan?
Three-year-old Livie is prone to profound attachments to soft objects. Her dirty little scrap of a blanket (Night-Night), is getting carried around a little less, but she has transferred her affections to a number of stuffed animals. The prime object of her affection at the moment is Sleepy Dog, which is actually a lavender scented eye pillow in the shape of a curled up puppy with his eyes closed. She found it in a toy bin at T.J. Max last Christmas.
She carries it around all day, demonstrating that he likes to be cradled in her arms, not held by his head "because dat will choke him, Mommy." He is a frail little puppy, always needing nursing, and much love and kisses.
Yesterday, we were at the Santa Barbara zoo, gazing into the murky water of a swan's pond, the very first animal exhibit as you walk in the gate. Suddenly, Hubby says, "Hey, where is Sleepy Dog?"
Panicked looks pass between my Beloved and I, and then we locate Sleepy Dog, who has slipped over the bridge and is slowly sinking, as it's mysterious herbal stuffing begins to be water logged with truly disgusting water. Split-second hesitation in which life -- and particularly our two-hour drive home -- without this fetish object flashes before my eyes, and I am heaving myself over the fence, breaking a number of zoo rules. If this had been the leopard's cage, or even the giraffe's, no way. But it was only a swan. (By the way, I didn't ask my husband to do it, not because I question his bravery, but because he is a much more strict rule follower than I.)
I retrieved S.D. and was about to rejoice in my successful rescue when the swan started coming at me, hissing. If it had been one of the Canadian geese at our local park, I would have aimed a swift kick at it, but as I was violating zoo policy and invading his space, I just shrieked and vaulted over the fence, scratching my knees and bruising my dignity at the same time.
My accompanying mommy friend laughed loudly, but not as loudly as Hubby, who was himself attacked by swans on the Seine in France seven years ago, and who has been razzed about it ever since. We even have a vintage pottery swan collection to commemorate that scary and humiliating event. Now it has even more meaning. Swans mate for life, as do we, and this is just one more common experience that bonds us.
In the kiddie train ride only minutes after my rescue mission, the train conductor announced that these rare black-necked swans are one of the most aggressive species of swans in the world. Ha ha! Another feather in my SuperMom cap. What I won't do for the welfare of my children!
In truth, the sacrifice I made today was much more taxing than braving the cage of a territorial birds. I spent the morning removing Sleepy Dog's contents -- which turned out to be flax seed and lavender saturated with water laced with swan feces -- washing him, and purchasing new flax. Tomorrow, I get to sew up some new Sleepy Dog innards. All in a day's work for SuperMom.