Monday, November 11, 2013


Really, being a parent is the equivalent of doing a life-long study in sociology. Or maybe even participating in a psychological experiment. In any case, I never get tired of studying children.  One of the coolest, most interesting things about having kids is that they become tiny reflections of yourself. Not only do they pick up on and subsequently mimic little quirks in your behavior--little things you may not even realize you do--but they also, by the laws of genetics, innately have other little parental qualities.

For instance, Anderson is an excellent mimic of his dad.  Marty doesn't really have a lot of little oddities (other than counting things and needing even numbers, but I digress...), but he does have some things that he routinely does. Things that I noticed a long time ago but kind of forgot about--until Anderson started doing them. When Marty is thinking hard about something, or is stressed out, he has a habit of running his hand across the top of his head, through his hair. He does it completely absent-mindedly. One day, I noticed Anderson doing the same thing. At first, I didn't put the two together, but then it clicked in my head. I questioned him, and he indicated that he was acting like Daddy. It was adorable. Another smile-inducing little thing that Anderson has so astutely picked up on is how Marty swallows. If you've eaten with him, chances are you noticed it. Marty has a paralyzed vocal cord, so to avoid aspirating food and liquid into his lungs, he has to turn his head to one side when he swallows, and he has to swallow hard. At dinner one night, we looked over and Anderson was doing the exact swallow--and I mean EXACT. We couldn't help but crack up. It's so endearing. It's just sweet that he picks up on little nuances in our behavior.

He is also a great mimic of my facial expressions.  I think I realized just how exaggerated my own facial expressions are when I was in college. At U of K, we had to interview to get into the Teacher Education program (which seems kind of weird, looking back on it...). It was pretty much my first interview ever--I mean, I'd had jobs before, but they were of the sort where, when you "interview", they pretty much just ask your name and beg you to start immediately. This was different, and I was nervous. I also got the professor who was notoriously mean as my interviewer, which didn't help things.  I sweated through the entire thing and at the end, she said, eyebrows arched, "Well, you're certainly an expressive person, for sure..."  Trust me. I know I do it. I can't help it. I've tried. My niece recently told me I look like Miley Cyrus when I get the idea.  Anyway, Anderson is practically a mirror. He talks to me with such exaggerated emotion, such facial expressions of seriousness, earnestness, even sternness, that I cannot help but laugh. And be a little self-conscious. But mostly laugh.

They also share some of my qualities, some of my likes and dislikes, and that's fun, too.  For instance, Amelia absolutely LOVES anything related to the sky. Clouds, the sun, stars, the name it, she loves it. She truly delights in a gorgeous sunset. She talks about all of the colors that she sees as the sun descends with such enthusiasm. I'm the same way. Cheesy as it may be, I love the sky, too. I love amazing sunrises and sunsets, I love when the sky is a million different shades of color. I love astronomy--took two classes in college and would've taken more but my major didn't require it and I definitely wasn't meant to be an astronomer--the sky and space are so fascinating! Confession: I will set alarms at crazy times to watch meteor showers. I've gotten up in the middle of the night and very early in the morning at various times in the year, just to go sit in a lawn chair in the backyard and see shooting stars. One time, I convinced my friend Matt to do the same.  He texted me the next day and said, "I got up in the middle of the night and stumbled outside. I looked crazy--I was wearing boxers and looking through binoculars at the sky."  Amazing visual. :-) Some people just aren't as interested.  I love that Amelia is already interested. I told her that one day, she and I would get a very nice telescope and we would look at the sky together. And we will.

She's also stubborn, hard-headed, and independent. But I don't know where she gets that.

Anderson shares my love of music. He expressed interest in specific types of songs, the sounds of certain musical instruments, before he could even talk. I would play "Band of Horses" and his little 16 month old butt would come running into the living room to listen intently.  I instinctively know what kinds of music and songs he will like. He can keep the beat and hum/sing better than more four year olds. A few nights ago, he took two Lincoln Logs and started using them as rhythm sticks, making sounds that started slow, and then got faster and faster. It reminded me of this scene in the movie "Memoirs of a Geisha":

(if you can't view the above clip, click here)

I looked it up on YouTube and played it for him. He asked me to play it another four times, and walked around playing his rhythm sticks in the same way (what you hear in the very beginning of the clip, and several times throughout). I love that I just knew he'd appreciate the music in that scene. It's a bond I know we will share for the rest of our lives. Something that connects us in a way that is special.

Anderson is also incredibly impatient--when he wants something, he wants it NOW--and he gets frustrated the minute he cannot find something. He's also a smeller. When he picks something up, be it food, a new toy, paper, he smells it. I'm a smeller. I'm not impatient. Not at all.

It's good to see yourself outside of yourself sometimes, and kids are the perfect mirrors in which to look for both the good, the quirky, and even the not-so-good things about ourselves. What about you? Do your kids share anything with you?

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