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Nature vs. Nurture: Highly Unscientific Observations from the Mom of a Toddler


Is it nature, or nurture? Forget about those childhood psych classes from college. We all know it's a balance of the two. It only takes a glance at a child and his parents to know that some things are just passed down (like my son's feet). Here, some highly unscientific observations from my own experience. (I hope you'll share your own in the comments section.)

[caption id="attachment_1681" align="alignright" width="185" caption="One of my all-time faves, but Patrick was a sweaty mess even on the bench."][/caption]

NATURE: My son's nanny asked me in March, "What are we going to do about V—he sweats like it's 90 degrees out when it's breezy and cool?!" And as my husband comments—with less concern and more oomph—"He perspires like Patrick Ewing in the fourth quarter of the playoffs!" (Sorry, buddy—you've been double-teamed with sweaty genes by Mom and Dad; get used to it.)

NURTURE: As early as I can remember I did puzzles with my maternal grandmother ("Nanny"), who let me stay up until the wee hours of the night as we worked side by side on our latest 5,000-piece creation. I was great at them, and fast. One generation later, Nanny lives with us and adores her great-grandson—who, it would seem, has caught the puzzle bug. We graduated early from those wonderful wooden puzzles from Melissa and Doug (I highly recommend them—but DON'T put the batteries in: Consider yourself warned), and my 2-year-old now whips together a puzzle labeled for a 4-year-old in 10 minutes without help (at last count). It's one of our favorite pastimes.

NATURE: He's inherited fat feet. I wasn't going to say, but...not from me.

[caption id="attachment_1687" align="aligncenter" width="300" caption="Made for walking..."][/caption]

NURTURE: "I had a nice day with you." "Mom, I had such a nice time with you." Some variation of these are what my son tells me—as he either gently and deliberately grabs my face to look in my eyes, mind you, or hugs me close—almost every night before bed on those days I am home with him. I know it comes from my telling him that same thing almost from the day he was born (on the many, many sleep-deprived days, I was always honest and said something more specific, such as "I enjoyed walking to the park with you this morning" : ) — but no matter where he got it from, I relish his words, and his tenderness.

NATURE: My husband and grandmother make fun of me because, inevitably, if they ask me why I don't like a particular food, the answer will have to do with its texture. Beans—too grainy. Peaches—all that fuzz! Macintosh apples—mealy. Dinner mints—ugh, like chalk. I even prefer my ice cubes of the shiny, crystal-clear variety—when they're too white and not so transparent, they're not smooth, either. The word "texture" itself has become a slight when it's said in my direction. They seem to think it's a matter of just letting myself get used to these foods, but I truly cannot. And I have watched my son struggle with textures since he delved into the world of solid foods. The face he makes when a food's texture doesn't suit him is priceless: nose

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wrinkled, mouth opened in an almost rectangular shape—so his tongue sticks out as he tries to avoid it touching any of that yucky food! But I am trying—diligently, and hopefully—to help him get beyond these texture issues. I feed him cottage cheese (something you simply could not pay me to taste) and we've moved up from the small-curd style to the all-out gross (though I'd never betray that opinion to him). I got him used to beans by pureeing them, and now my nanny has successfully fed him whole beans on at least one occasion. This is one of those instances where my gut tells me my son's tendencies are nature...but I hope he can be swayed by nurture.



NURTURE: My son and I both love the rain. Puddle-jumping, cool air, no sweat. The drumbeat sound. Even the mud.

 

[caption id="attachment_1694" align="alignleft" width="225" caption="OK, he doesn't walk like this anymore, but..."][/caption]

NATURE: My little boy inherited my facial expressions, fine hair, and laugh, my husband's childhood curls, shoulders, and—most notably to me—his walk. When I see my boy amble down the sidewalk or run down our long hallway, it makes me grin. Every. Single. Time. Just like Daddy.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

[caption id="attachment_1763" align="alignleft" width="215" caption="A year ago, after he first discovered the joy (?!) of chores"][/caption]

 

 

 

 

UNIVERSAL: Elmo makes everyone smile.

[caption id="attachment_1698" align="alignleft" width="225" caption="Tickled by Elmo, every time."][/caption]

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

What are your favorite nature or nurture observations??

Dawn M. Roode

Author:

Dawn M. Roode was formerly editorial director of NYMetroParents, where she launched the award-winning semi-annual magazine Special Parent. She was managing editor at Parenting, BabyTalk, Child, Harper's Bazaar, and Latina magazines. She is a strategic content specialist and currently writes and edits parenting, health, travel, and special needs features for various media outlets. Roode is mom to one son and recently relocated from Brooklyn to the suburbs of New York City. Follow her on Twitter @DawnRoode.

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