Tonawanda News

October 15, 2012

A bit of me, a bit of you, a bit of ... who?

The Tonawanda News

Tonawanda News — Genetics is a funny thing.

My two boys don’t look a thing like me. (At least, I don’t think so.) They look like their father, or their paternal grandfather, or to some extent my younger brother, with a dash of whichever random relative contributed the still-white-blond hair my youngest sports into the mix. 

(Don’t look at me; I have no idea. I was blond as a kid, but not that blond or for this long. The next time someone asks me where it came from, I swear I’m going to chirp “the milkman!” just to see what they’ll do.)

They both have blue eyes, but not my blue eyes. They’re either a particularly gorgeous dark blue (bequeathed to my eldest by his late paternal grandpa) or a slightly paler blue that could have come from various other relatives. To be fair, they don’t have hazel eyes from my husband, either, although since they both look strikingly like his childhood pictures I don’t think it matters much.

A collective 18 months of pregnancy, 30-some hours of labor and various bouts of morning sickness, stretch marks and other fun mommy stuff tell me pretty clearly they’re my kids. I don’t stress about the lack of a resemblance, although sometimes I wish I’d passed on just a little something, like a tendency toward red in their hair or the shape of my eyes. 

The older they get, though, the more I clearly see the non-physical characteristics I passed on to them for better or worse. Maybe it’s nature. Maybe it’s nurture. At any rate, it’s there.

My oldest, he takes after his dad, by and large. They both hate crowds, have an extraordinary ear for music and will thrive on late nights if given the opportunity.

But like me, he loves the sun. Find a patch of sunlight in our house, and he’s there. He loves warmth. (We’re glorying in it when the other two are complaining about the summertime heat and we are united in our disgust when winter’s cold rolls in.)

Like the mother who spent her school days nearly constantly in the pool, especially during the elementary years, he loves the water with a passion. And he wants to go for walks every night, the way I used to before I had two small tagalongs. Maybe now they’re strolls around the block rather than adventures through the Niagara Gorge, but they’re still good for us.

Unfortunately, no one has yet managed to figure out how to pass on the good traits and not the, errr, not-as-good ones.

So, like me he gets moody when he’s tired. (And moody can be pretty darned unpleasant.) He has a bit of a temper, even though it takes a bit to bring it out. And he’s stubborn as a mule, although frankly our kids would be more unusual if they weren’t stubborn, with our family tree.

My younger son, well, he’s even more like me. We share a love of animals, of having lots of stuff going on around us (we love the crowds the others hate) and of going new places and trying new things.

Perhaps most profoundly, we share the simple joy of talking to people, of learning more about them and hearing their stories. (That’s a trait I acquired, not one I was born with, but that’s another story.) He might be 4, but he’s already well down the path that ultimately took me to journalism. (For better or worse.)

Of course, then there’s the flip side. To my own mother’s endless amusement, he’s picky. Really picky. The usual dinner options have him moping at the table, making huge eyes at the meal everyone else is consuming and informing us — dramatically, usually — that eating that will make him sick. It won’t, not really, but the dramatic production that unfolds if he’s required to actually consume said meal option is usually worthy of an Academy Award.

I could admit that I believe I subsisted on a diet of white rice and hot dogs for a while when I was a child, but I’m pretty sure I wasn’t that bad. Right, Mom? Mom?

(Mom, if you’re reading, don’t answer that.)

And, in another fine family tradition, he’s shaping up to be a worrier, like his mother, grandfather and great-grandmother before him. I hope we can nip this one in the bud, but at this point, I doubt it. The most I can do is reassure. For a child with little innate caution, he already has a lot of concern for the well-being of others.

And no matter what the problems inherent in it are, that last is something I still wouldn’t change.

My kids are my kids, for better or worse.

They’re a really neat mix of their parents, with a dash of somethings that’s simply “them” thrown in for spice ... and I wouldn’t have it any other way. 

Jill Keppeler is a writer for the Tonawanda News. She can be reached at

Jill Keppeler is a writer for the Tonawanda News. She can be reached at