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Monday, 11 June 2007

Nature or nurture?

Sooo, basically, I've got no idea. Not a clue. But it's irrelevant. All my kids are clearly inheriting the very worst of my character defects as well as a smattering of my obsessions as well, either way. Last week, this came crashing home to me when I took a phone call at about 3.30pm on Thursday afternoon. It was Paul, asking me to speak to a sobbing Eden. Between the sobs and the hiccups I managed to ascertain that she was upset about her progress in reading at school and in her after-school French classes. The teachers were going too fast for her; she just wasn't clever enough; she couldn't possibly keep up. Meanwhile, her teachers report that she is doing brilliantly. Both her reading and her French are above average, for sure, yet she is consumed by an entirely self-imposed view that she is not doing well enough; she must go faster, get better, quicker. At the weekend she started reading me the headlines from The Guardian, fergoodnesssake. She's only five! Thank goodness we are not sending her to private school and that I don't subscribe to the pushy alpha-Mum approach; the girl has enough of the high-achiever/perfectionist in her to avoid the need for any additional external pressure. Sounds deeply familiar.
Nath, meanwhile, is increasingly displaying an unhealthy obsession with the hoover. In fact, not just with our hoover. When we visit other people's houses, he actively seeks out their hoovers - even if only to be found in the understairs cupboard (I think he has 'hoo-dar' - like gay-dar but for hoovers). When he sees the hoover, he runs towards it, pointing and grinning animatedly and yelling, "Look! Hoooover! Hoooover!" This one is a kind of perverse inversion of another of my obsessions, i.e. I am obsessed with the concept of cleanliness and tidiness, but never achieve it quite to the level to which I aspire (OK, to anywhere near the level to which I aspire). The problem is, I won't go near the hoover. I hate hoovers. And anyway, hoovering is a mug's game when you have children!
As if it weren't bad enough that the kids offer up a mirror reflection to my stupidest traits, I've really started noticing the way they copy my most habitual speech patterns and phrases. Nathan, who is a little Lord Fauntleroy lookalike, with his mop of unruly blond hair and enormous blue eyes, makes me die laughing every time he greets me with a breezy, "Hello, Dah-ling!" on my return from work (in exactly my tone of voice). And Eden just said, "No I can't, you cheeky chops!" in response when I asked her to clean her teeth. Did I mention she's only five? Little madam.


Kate said...

Cheeky chops indeed. Your kids sound hilarious- and adorable. But what is it with firstborns and perfectionism. . .? My eldest was the same; my youngest couldn't give a toss!

beta mum said...

It's not such a welcome mirror they hold up to your behaviour when they start using sarcasm back to you - I've had to control my habit to avoid such horrors.

Working Mum said...

Hi Kate. Yep. The kids are definitely hilarious. And sometimes adorable!Eldest children (especially girls I believe) do often seem to have this high achiever thing going on. I had to deal with another bout of the hysterics this morning!

Beta Mum: I know what you mean about hearing the worst of your own attitudes coming right back at ya. Motherhood is all about the guilt!