Genetic jigsaw still makes sense
It is impossible to predict what characteristics your kids will inherit
IN the lead-up to the birth of our first child, I imagined — naively, and somewhat unscientifically — that she would turn out a 50-50 clone of her dad and me.
She’d look like us both, from different angles; her features drawn from ours equally and rearranged in an unalarming manner.
Her personality would be a reliably predictable selection of our own easily recognisable traits.
If you put her under a sort of genetic x-ray machine her brain and body would show up as neat, colour-coded sections inherited from her parents. Legs, Mum; arms, Dad. Eyes, Mum; hair, Dad. Spelling brain, Mum; maths brain, Dad. Love of writing lists, Mum; love of putting up tents, Dad. Sporting prowess ... blank.
And thus she would be immediately knowable to us, and we’d be pre-armed to deal with any parenting situation.
I admit it was a misguided notion. Blame the pregnancy hormones.
The first sign that my theory was bunkum was when she popped out blonde. No problem — we changed her name from the one we had preselected on the expectation that she’d be brunette. Crazy, I know.
Then she showed a hot temper in infancy. But we’re so mild-mannered! We were puzzled and a little nervous.
She refused to sleep. But we are champion sleepers.
Then her hair went curly. Eh? It dawned on me that in fact a total stranger had emerged from my tummy, Alien- style, and suddenly rocked up to live at our place.
Who was she? You’d know more about a new flatmate found on the internet.
Of course, this is no newsflash to any parent or carer. Like adults, children are all fascinating, unfathomable individuals.
A friend of mine once lovingly described his infant as “the best pet ever”, and that’s true to an extent but at some stage it becomes apparent they’re autonomous human beings, with an internal life and a mind of their own.
Which is truly magical until you’re shouting at your three small autonomous humans for the 10th time to please get their shoes on.
I’m happy to report that, 10 glorious, muddling-onward years later, our daughter is her own delightful, easygoing person. I’m sure her teenage years will be a breeze. And at least some of the genetic jigsaw that I guessed at still makes sense.
The ice blue eyes come from the paternal grandpa. The red hair and the quiet grace I’ll gladly credit to her father.
The legs, the knicknack-hoarding and the terrible puns are mine alone.
But there’s the resemblance thing.
People say she looks like me (out of our three kids, we call her “the Murphy one”) but I fail to see it.
I suspect most parents are blind to these sorts of observations.
Sure, we can pick our offspring’s voice out of a crowd of 100 noisy kids but can’t tell if they’re our spitting image.
Or perhaps it’s just my dodgy vision — another little gift passed down from mother to daughter.
Pretty ordinary inheritance ... sorry, kid.
Who was she? You’d know more about a new flatmate found on the internet