My Family

Genetic Dice

When your child is first born, every relative on both sides of the family will tell you who the baby looks like. And once the child starts to do things, no matter how small, the relatives will also tell you who the baby behaves like. They can’t seem to stop themselves. It’s almost like they are laying claim to the child because he looks like or acts like so-and-so did way back when. Pointing out proof of bloodlines or something.

Of the two, behavior is more fascinating, at least to me. Watching the little personalities emerge and recognizing myself or my husband or someone in the family…that’s really, really cool. "That’s my son!" or "That’s your son!" (Depending, of course, on just what the son has done….)

So, we were shopping at The Sports Authority last weekend. Well, I was shopping, everyone else was along for the ride. And I wasn’t so much shopping as I was clawing and pawing through jogging bras to find as many as I could in my size of one particular design that I bought a while back and it is the BEST one I’ve ever owned, so I wanted ALL of them. I was lugging Julia around in my left arm and searching through the racks with my right hand. It was awkward and Julia weighs 17 lbs 6 ounces, but I was on a mission. I found four, by the way.

But that’s not the point of the story.

The point comes next. While Julia and I were in search of the perfect woman’s support garment, Alex and Bill were wandering around in the more manly areas of the store. It was while they were in the fishing section that Alex suddenly announced – in his loud and proud little boy voice: "I DID GAS!" And he wasn’t finished, either. A little bit later he announced "I DID GAS AGAIN!"

He’s Bill’s son, you know.

But then, there are other moments…like at the dinner table one time, I asked Alex to hand me his plate…"It’s a bowl, Mommy, not a plate."

Or this…it is that part of a weekday morning when all is chaos as we are getting ready to leave the house, and I am trying to get both kids ready to go and I call out to Alex, who has wandered off somewhere, "Okay, Alex, time to put on your socks and shoes!" and he corrects me:  "No, Mommy, boots; not shoes."

And so on.

Well.  Years and years ago – when I was too young – I was the manager of a small bookstore (part of a very large chain) in a little mall outside of Boston.  It was a lovely place to work.  Every so often all the store managers had meetings to discuss what to do in case of an armed robbery.  Fun.

I was in way over my head.  I lacked confidence, big time.  And my way of getting past that feeling of "any minute now they’re going to realize they made a BIG mistake putting me here and FIRE ME" was to be a bitch on wheels.

I had inherited my employees from the previous manager, who, if I remember correctly, was fired, but I don’t remember why.  Among the crew was this one guy who I just didn’t click with AT ALL.  I was too nervous, too unsure of myself, to relax about anything during that time, and he was laid back and older than me and oh, whatever.  We just didn’t click.  He probably knew I didn’t know what I was doing (or at least I didn’t think I knew what I was doing), and just knowing that he knew I was out of my element drove me nuts and contributed, in part, to my dictatorial behavior at times.  Not a bright and shining period in my life. 

He and I were working at the front of the store one day, opening boxes of books and entering them into the store’s fledgling computer inventory system.  I was at the computer, he was on the other side of the counter emptying boxes and putting the books onto shelves or on a display table or something.

And then it happened.

He said  "Can you hand me the slasher?"

And I said  "The what?"

And he said "The slasher – you know, so I can open this box?"

And I said (icily, I’m sure, because that’s how I spoke a lot of the time back then) "It’s called a blade."

And he looked at me like I was insane and ridiculous – which I was – and laughed slightly, and said something dismissive (and sensible) like "slasher, blade, same thing."

And I said "It’s. Called. A. BLADE."

And he probably decided it was too stupid to even continue the discussion; better just to give in or she might bite or something….

So anyway.  I made the mistake as some point after that of telling this story to my sister, and so of course she will remind me of it when I am being particularly anal. 

"It’s a blade!  It’s a blade!" she will snarl, in a Wicked Witch of the West voice.  It works.  I shut right up.

But my point is…it’s a blade…it’s a bowl…it’s a boot…

Yes.  He’s my son.  Heaven help him.

One thought on “Genetic Dice

Leave a Reply