Proof that Whit is my son

I have often joked that parenting is primarily the painful experience of watching your own worst traits animate in another person.  That’s certainly something I do often with my children.  Grace’s similiarities to me are immediately evident, but Whit’s are more buried.  His little boy bravado and bluster hide a core of deep sensitivity.  He can be sentimental and nostalgic, and is prone to emotional outbursts about things being over.  There were several moments this summer when I was reminded with breathtaking clarity how much my son’s emotional terrain resembles my own, though we are wrapped in such different packaging (and how different those packages are.  notably, his is adorable, and hilarious.  mine, not so much.).

Three experiences in particular did this.

Arguably the scariest ride at Legoland is called “Knights Tournament,” and two riders are strapped into seats which are then thrown around, upside down, all around.  There are 5 levels, and Grace and Whit are only tall enough to do 1 or 2.  Last summer we tried 1.  This summer we went for 2.  The first time we went on it was at dusk on our first evening in the park (we have a routine of going back after an afternoon swimming break and early dinner).  Whit disembarked and, taking my hand, announced, “Well, that was fun.  The best part about it was that you got such a good look at the sky.”

Our second night home Whit was absolutely inconsolable at bedtime.  He could not sleep.  He was tearful and clingy.  He told me he missed Legoland desperately, and was incredibly sad that something he’d so anticipated had come and gone.  It’s just going too fast, Mummy, he said, murmuring into my neck as we lay on his bottom bunk in the dark.  It’s hard to console someone when you yourself are overwhelmed with the precise emotions they are trying to deal with.

On the first Friday of school, I picked Grace and Whit up and took them to our local library to return some books and collect some others that I had ordered.  I let them each choose a movie also.  Two of the books in the stack the librarian handed to me were for Whit: Origami Yoda and The Way Things Work.  As we walked out to the car I had a stack of books and the two movies on my arms.  Whit held the door for me and then, trotting next to me to the car, announced, “Oh, Mummy, I love the library.  Look at all this great stuff we got there!”

I am constantly amazed and often flummoxed by the ways that genetics work.  Both of my children contain aspects of Matt, parts of me, and some mysterious element all their own; and through the particular alchemy of personhood they are each their own, unique, maddening, extraordinary person.

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  1. Posted September 18, 2012 at 5:17 am | Permalink

    That Whit–the sky the best part of the ride. I love it! I, too, experience such a happy jolt when I find glimpses of myself in my children. I often find Henry lost in the sky. And Abby, when she was a baby, would immediately calm down the minute the fresh air hit and the sky hung over her head.


  2. Posted September 18, 2012 at 6:38 am | Permalink

    Oh my goodness! Just last night, Rob and I had a long conversation about this very thing. I was feeling so sad that while Rob is a superior athlete, the girls seem to have gotten my genes in this category. Lying in bed, I was going over and over the things that I had passed on that could have just stayed with me. Fortunately, Rob was there to point out that there were also many positives but it sure is easy to wallow in this, isn’ it?

  3. Kate
    Posted September 18, 2012 at 11:49 am | Permalink

    Last Monday my 1st grader made her first trip to the school library at her new school. She was absolutely thrilled to have been able to check out a book with her own card. She skipped all the way home with the book hugged to her chest. Yes, she’s mine!

  4. Posted September 19, 2012 at 11:36 pm | Permalink

    We love ORIGAMI YODA — and you have DARTH PAPER to look forward to…