Thursday, November 4, 2010

Like Father, Like Daughter

When I was growing up, I remember hearing my mom say "your sister is too much like me." I thought it was an odd thing to say back then. I mean, if she's so like you, wouldn't you understand each other really well? Get along great? As a kid, you think sharing certain personality traits will bring people together. 

I also remember that Paula Abdul song "Opposites Attract." That was my introduction to the concept that surrounding yourself with people who are different from you is a good thing.  I thought about the parent-child relationship in this context, and thought, "OK, maybe this applies."  But Paula and Scat Cat were singing about romantic relationships, right? So maybe not.

Logic at age 10 is an elusive creature.

Now that I'm a parent, there has been new light shed on this matter. My lovely daughter, the perfect 50/50 mix of her parents seems to have acquired my *general* temperment and mannerisms... but her father's most troublesome personality traits.  Curiosity. Stubborness. And a mighty hot temper.

I see this as the universe getting back at him for the early days of our teenage relationship.  And it's true, before Ellie was born, I told him that if God had a sense of humor he'd give us a daughter who was just like him.  That way, he could pay for the myriad emergency room visits and temper tantrums of his youth and I would be impervious. 

Truthfully, I am impervious, just as predicted.  See, I've known Ellie's father for nearly 15 years. I've seen him at his best and his very worst.  There's nothing she can't do to me that I haven't already handled from her father.  I draw a strange comfort from this fact, one that gives me the confidence and patience to manage her moody times. I have also mastered the art of distraction and, most importantly, how to get her to think my idea was her idea.  You can ask Mike, I've been doing that to him for years.

But on the other hand, Ellie is "too much like" Mike.  He's always been himself, but never had to deal with himself. Watching them squabble over the spoon at feeding time or a pair of socks is an interesting battle of wills. It's only amusing now because I know he'll find a way to work through it... also because at least it isn't me.  And with any luck, the part of her that comes from me will develop as she matures and eventually she'll just look at her father and roll her eyes. For both of their sakes, I hope this happens.

But don't get me wrong... I look at this situation as a warning for myself. We plan to have more kids some day and when we do, I'm sure God will send me my own personal challenge. Whatever he or she may do to me, I just pray that Mike will know how to deal with it...

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