The Laughing Cow Lives In My Heart

One of the benefits of being a Mom, is to be the recipient of stuff like this red cow, which is really a bull. (As my kids have corrected me no less than 12 times):


The gift is not in the bull, although, I do love it; it’s in the latent, crazy, quirky reminiscent memories from my past, that would still be buried if I didn’t have the bull today. Memories that my 9-year-old’s soul is completely, blissfully, oblivious to. Yet, how did he know this cow would resonate with me? The red on this cow is stunning. A true red that stands in contrast to the organgey-brown-colored reds we were stuck with in his pre-school clay class. So I remember little hands working the clay.

As for reminiscing, I will start with this: My son feels overshadowed by an older brother, who does well in art. And that’s all I’ll say about that, except that, in case you didn’t know, boys are fiercely competitive. As school started this year, my 9-year-old became increasingly vocal about how much he hates Wednesdays because it’s art day, and even faked “stomachache” on that day. He does not get along well with the mean art teacher, he tells me, because he’s such a pain in the neck. When the report cards came out, my 9-year-old reluctantly handed me his, with a caution: “You’re going to see a very bad note from the art teacher, but that’s just because he’s mean.” I checked. The note simply said, “He needs to stop worrying so much.” I talked to his regular teacher about art. Her face lighted with bewilderment. Her words: “I’ve never seen Mr. T (the art teacher) so concerned about a student. He’s wants your son to stop trying so hard.” I see the problem. He fears being average at anything.


When the bull came home yesterday, I praised, and congratulated and gave it a nice spot in the kitchen, because I really do love this shinny red thing. I have this thing for cows, and few people have brought me some for my “collection,” but I’m far from serious about that kind of thing.

Not until I pulled out the cheese, that his younger brother insisted that I buy, (earlier that day, way before the bull came home) because they looked like shinny wrapped silver coins, did I see the connection. I’m dropping these red coins into their lunch snacks, and wondering why this is the first time I’ve ever bought these cute little cheese buttons for my kids, because they’re just so gosh darn fun, and no, they don’t even have to be refrigerated, and heck 12 percent of our daily calcium requirements. To open, you peel the shinny red plastic, and scratch off the wax. That’s when I see the tag. That funny little laughing cow, all red, with horns. Which makes me ask myself, isn’t she a bull anyway? Oh no, right. Those are just earrings she wears.


He looks exactly like our new bull, and my son didn’t even know he was creating an Andy-Warhol-like icon in his 3rd-grade art class. He doesn’t even like Campbell’s soup. I consider selling bulls on Etsy, because they are so cool, in a retro-ishy-way, but realize, I can’t part with this one, and where would I find a kiln? Then, I remember the time my husband and I were looking for the best cheese in the entire world when we walked through the streets of Paris, and found it from a street vendor. This amazing, great cheese was not La Vache Qui Rit, which we laughingly tossed aside as the French version of American Velveeta. An American friend, recently back from France, swore we had to try this AMAZING Cheese. He said we could go to any French market and say, do you have “Moo-Moo Cheese” or “Ha-Ha, Moo-Moo,” and they would know instantly, exactly what we were talking about. Yeah, right, Damn Yankees, the would say. Heard that one enough. Did you know that every second, 125 portions of this laughing cow cheese are eaten around the world?

Now that his sculpture has touched my heart and moved my soul by evoking memories, he is truly an artist; one that is far from average.

My son constantly reveals a rich, incredible, diverse, rich tapestry, with layered threads, woven deep from his simple words and actions. You hold the tapestry this way, and you see this, and turn it over, and you see that. He’s a good book and a movie. Of course, it does take some insight to come up with, “Mom, did you know you’re older than Jesus,” when you’re only 4 years old. This cow, made with his hands, with bones protruding, exhibiting the same fierce strength he has within. This bull simply epitomizes my love for him.

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18 comments to “The Laughing Cow Lives In My Heart”
  1. The cow is awesome!

    I remeber feeling like him..the worry, the mean teacher…
    I hated the scared feeling.

    I happened to sit next to my scary art teacher at mass the other day.. of course at the sign off peace we hugged.. When I was 10 I would have ran and cried. Oh how we live and learn.

  2. I just fell in love with those sturdy red legs of this cow bull 🙂 If your son can produce something like this when he tries too hard, then he’ll get a whole lot of joy out of making awesome stuff when he hits his groove 🙂

  3. I know the timbre of competitive children, one with self esteem issues the other with the luck of the Irish and the talent of the blessed. For some, life is just easier than it is for others and that’s a tough lesson to learn as a child. But you’re a sweet dear Mom who will cherish her red bull and her laughing cow memories because that’s what Mom’s do best…love them all with equal measure and a whole lot of worry.

  4. I love that red bull! He got the boniness of the spine and hips (my husband and I call them the “bony-butt” type of cow) and the wonderful little cow tail. I also like his stance, very much that stubborn bull thing, even though “real” bulls’ legs aren’t like that.

    Every once in a while my son will start saying that he can’t draw something. I know he’s just frustrated that he can’t make it look “real” or the way someone else has done it. So I tell him over and over that everyone is an artist, but it takes some practice. I hope he can really hear that.

    Et La Vache Qui Rit, c’est une fromage magnifique!

    I will say, Henitsirk, that I makes me happy that I can still read that and know exactly what it means!

  5. Only though the eyes of a child do we see the REAL beauty in life. Loved this darling post…the cow, oops, bull is a true “work or art”. Tell your son I said so!


  6. What a great story. The bull is adorable & the color, perfect. I hope you keep your post for him to read much later. I am sure he will appreciate your insight & humor. You’ve got a special guy there.

    I’ve always thought that sibling dynamics are some of the hardest to overcome.

  7. I think it’s precious, and so is your appreciation of it. Teachers have a hard time to know when to pressure and when to back off… I bet your son is a perfectionist in his creativity – a real deep thinker. 😉

  8. That’s so sweet. I hope someday he realizes that it’s OK to be totally different than his brother, but the truth is, it’s often very, very hard to walk in our older brother’s shadow. It might take a long time before he gets out from under it. And you know what? In the meantime, it’s OK for him to hate art. As long as he loves something else.

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