Thursday, February 4, 2010

Nature, Nurture.

My 15-month-old girl has 16 pairs of shoes. I am appalled. Seriously. I didn't realize how many we've amassed until her nana finally decided to count them the other day and even I was shocked. In my defense, a couple of those pairs of shoes were hand-me-downs from friends, and another couple were gifts. But it makes me wonder, when Little Miss becomes an Imelda Marcos wannabe would it be because she has my shoe-fetish gene or because I made her into one? Nature versus nurture, the perennial debate.

Recently, I have been reading Suite Francaise for my book club, a story about the mass exodus of Parisians, scrambling to leave their German-occupied city during World War II. I knew it wasn't going to be light reading but what I wasn't prepared for was the emotional upheaval. Yesterday, I was helplessly weeping into the book, which isn't uncommon for me, but on the subway?! I dared not make eye contact but I rather imagine that it made a decent anecdote for those lacking more exhilarating dinner conversation: "Oh my god, today on the train this chick was like reading a book and she was like crying and shit. Oh my god. Hilarious!"

Yeah, hilarious. I hate that I can't help myself. If you haven't guessed already, I'm the type to cry at commercials, news broadcasts, You Tube videos and yes, even posters on the train about the plight of children or animals. The other night I was bawling at a blogger's post about the untimely passing of her child, undoubtedly magnified by my maternal role, and My Guy stopped working on his computer despite a tight deadline just to console me. He's seen this all too often and by now, he's a pro at making me feel better, gently leading me away from my misery, without mocking me. (Thank you.)

Sadly (pun intended), I've always been this way. When I was seven, at the end of a tearjerker Indian movie (but then again, which one isn't?), I was bawling for a full ten minutes in my mother's arms. I knew the characters were fictional but it still really bothered me when the female lead recovered from her amnesia only to forget the man who nursed her back to health and left him to go back to her old life (that’s Bollywood for ya). You should know that even though my mom laughed at me at the time, she was the first to cry when the train left the station, forever separating the two characters. Clearly, this apple didn’t fall too far from the tree. (Thanks mom.)

However, to her credit, she also taught me to cook, sew (buttons), love literature, sing lullabies, mind my table manners, respect my elders, be self-reliant, etc. etc. etc. I suppose I can live with this one flaw I inherited. But I insist that my love for the Matrix and sci-fi flicks in general, Buffy the Vampire Slayer and The X-Files TV series, the Harry Potter and LOTR books, all things serial killer, zombies and vampires (EXCEPT Twilight - eew), Neil Gaiman, geeks who paint Warhammer miniatures, watch Star Trek and listen to Weezer, trip-hop and indie folk-rock music, live concerts, decorative paper, and online shopping, that’s all me.

My question is, how do I pass those on to Little Miss? There is a tiny window of opportunity when she's completely malleable and thinks the world of her mother (this one tinier than the former), so if I'm crossing my fingers for another version of me (but better, like Justine 2.0) just so we can have something to talk about on long road trips (I think of everything), I better move fast: skip the Barney phase and move straight to hunting vampires with Buffy (onscreen of course, there are no real vampires, duh) or ask Little Miss if she wants the blue pill or the red pill before bedtime each night.  I can only hope she would learn to appreciate some of the things that are such a big part of me, nerdery and all. Or maybe she already does, and I just don't know it yet. I guess I'll just have to wait and see. 

Meanwhile, there will be Portishead playing in the background as we peruse together for more shoes. You know, just in case.

CUTE SIGHTING: When leaving daycare today, I asked Little Miss to say goodbye to a 20-month-old boy, Trevor, who was in the play area by himself and she walked all the way over to him, waved at him and when I asked her to give him a hug, she did it without hesitation. The blossoming of best friendship. Aww...