even elephants are controversial

Sarah is having a baby! So when it came time for planning the shower, I offered to do what I do best – not sausage balls or a fruit tray. You guessed it, the invitations.

I love for Henry to illustrate my projects. But sometimes I have to just do it myself. He drew a faint pencil line of a circus parade. I had a feeling that he was not going to finish up that night. He typically draws a faint line, makes adjustments, draw with a thick pencil line, outlines with a Sharpie and erase pencil lines. That’s a lot of steps, dog. So I was not surprised when he placed the paper beside him on the couch and said, “I will finish this tomorrow night.”

But I was on a rampage with my to do list and that answer simply was not going to do. I had been “out of the office” all week last week with appointments and I needed to knock some stuff out. I testified before the Board of Elections, met people for invitations consultations, dressed the altar – all good stuff. But I do need to spend time in front of my computer.

I picked up his drawing, headed straight for the Sharpie and tried to recreate my own elephant. Not so successful. But I started thinking about it. Drawing a circus parade could be a bad idea. Yes, even an elephant can be controversial – one could argue that they are politicized, captured, tortured, each depending on where you stand. Thoughts of PETA, agony, controversy, conflict – all things that have nothing to do with a baby shower!

Plus guests might interpret the drawing to mean that she has a circus theme. Then what if she ends up with a room full of circus references? That could be bad, too. I am not one to be “too matchy-matchy,” a la Heidi Klum.

Somehow Winston, Sarah’s famous brown dog, just popped out of my pencil. Maybe I was channeling his growing anxiety. Today I received an email from Winston, which seems to confirm his uncertainty about the upcoming months and years:

Dear Caroline,
Ohmigawdohmigawdohmigawd! I can’t even believe it! I am so famous!!! You drew ME on the invitation to Mommy and Baby David’s shower!! I am so excited to be so famous! This is almost as good as a steak!!! Ohmigawd! I can’t even stand it!!!
Love,
Winston

ps: is there any way you could take Baby David off my hands when he arrives? I think he’s going to disturb my lifestyle. Already Mommy does not walk as fast as I would like her to and we never run any more. I’m pretty sure Baby David is going to ruin my life. I’d appreciate any help you could give.

So I pegged the invitation! And I think Winston will be quite excited to have a baby brother to protect, as Baby David takes great joy in torturing him. I suspect in a few years Toddler David will love feeding Winston, which might sway his affection from Sarah to little David. Winston will have a new reason to get off the couch besides rawhides and walks. That would be a miracle.

Winston’s plea for help reminds me of “Socks,” a book by Beverly Cleary, which Sarah gave me for Christmas when we were in the third grade. Socks is the story about a happy tabby cat, who rules the roost, until his parents bring home a baby. I loved this book. She gave it to me along with a giant soap in the shape of a Garfield. I loved that, too. Somewhere I have a picture of Sarah holding up our gifts for the camera, including a tennis racket tucked under her arm.

As I began searching for an image of Socks, I realized that the cover has changed several times over the years. The tiny thumbnail above was the cover of my copy. I thought that it was the first illustration until I saw this smaller cover. I recognized the line drawing above because Beatrice Darwin’s illustrations are peppered throughout the story. I loved her work – so simple and communicative. In fact her work reminds me a lot of Chinese Brush Painting. After spending the last half hour searching for more of Darwin’s work, I found an amazing print on Flickr. But then it was gone, just like that. I want to learn more about the illustrator, but no luck tonight.

I’ll have to search for my copy of Socks the next time I’m home, which will be for Sarah’s shower. Maybe I will read a few excerpts of the book as part of the shower entertainment. Or maybe I will go over to visit Winston and read it to him while his mommy loads the gifts in her car. Until then, this is my response to Winston:

Dear Winston,

You think that you are famous now, you have no idea. I featured your response on my blog.

I have the perfect remedy for your anxiety. No, it’s not pot brownies. Even though I am pretty certain you would love them, I am positive your mom won’t make them for you. Plus you had that bad chocolate experience once before… need I remind you? I am sure that you easily put that out of your memory.

It is a very good book called Socks that your mommy might read to you while you try to fit your head on her lap. I promise that there will be a place for you full head once again. Although her lap will get gradually smaller until this summer. Plus, I have seen pictures of other dawgs snuggled up to new babies. I listened a few other benefits in my blog post. Plus mommy might even let you lick the baby’s toes. Now that will be fun!

xoxo – Caroline

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