Saturday, January 26, 2008

Odd Woman Out

Funny how we all create associations and alignments (and realignments) in our families, whatever the formation.
Too often in adoption, it had been assumed that the adoptee would acclimate to the adoptive family, becoming closer and closer to some imaginary person made from a little bit of mom and a little bit of dad "just like" in a biological family.* This, of course, was based not only on fundamental misunderstandings of the importance of genetics to constitution, but also on misconceptions of the biological family itself.
Too often now I see the equal and opposite reaction: the belief that the adoptee is at heart entirely other to her afamily, wholly like (or presumed to be like if they have not yet met) the first family. This is dependent on that same misconception of the biological family.
My son is very thin because his nfather and nmother were thin (not so now, I'm afraid). He is artistic like me -- whether this is nuture or nature none can say in this case, though likely a combination of the two. My daughter's glorious eyelashes and gargantuan feet must surely have come from her nparents, and her gregariousness likely a combination of genetics and her early socialization in a warm culture. Both are so much fun because I never know what's coming next, where they will go, who they will become.
At the same time, those two have things in common -- and things in common with their daddy -- that I will never have in common with them. They are both "high spirited" (which we know is sometimes a euphemism for "bad"). They like to jump on the bed and pillow fight. They'd both jump *off* the bunk bed if I didn't stop them fast enough. Like their father, who Supermanned off his porch before a family vacation to Disney World, who knocked himself senseless on a makeshift skate ramp, they are heedless.
My sister and my brother would have done these things, too, so I found myself growing up between two people who did all kinds of things one could predict would end badly but didn't end so badly afterall. In the meantime all sorts of unpredictable bad things befell me.
A tangent/an example:
I was standing on base -- I didn't know it was base! Who would choose the corner where two windows meet as base?! -- when a kid plowed into me and I smashed my face into the corner and bled and bled and bled. I wasn't playing! when I had one of the worst playground kinds of accidents ever.
My sister would have been playing.
My sister, when she first learned how to ride a bicycle, decided to ride it down our steepest hill. Miraculously, no permanent damage was done when she flipped over the handle bars and landed under the bike. So I opted not to learn how to ride my bike until sometime around the fifth grade. And when I did, another kid ran into my tire, steering me, wildly out of control, toward a rock. I flew over the handle bars and landed on my face. I walked home in a daze (why someone didn't run ahead to get my mom, I still don't know). She was so worried about the S and O shaped wounds on my forehead (where was the other S?) that she didn't notice the bone threatening to poke through the last layer of skin by my wrist until my dad came home to take me to the hospital.
What is a hapless woman to do with heedless children? And why, when I don't want them to grow up to be hesitant, do I feel lonely in a family of people who don't heed? I don't know where this is going other than to say that it concerns me about my motivations for expanding our family -- what if, on some level, I'm hoping for someone a little more mellow? And what if the therapist we once met was right -- that any child who ended up in our house would end up "high spirited"?

*I just learned this week that Jamie Lynn Spears's parents are named Jamie . . . and Lynn. Unreal (though this has led to fantastic results for imaginary children in the Bloom household). My personal favorite current name for an imaginary future child, however, is L'+my real life name. As in "Little A." Isn't that why we parent, afterall?

Dh has prompted me to consider starting a separate blog -- a "wtf" themed blog, where all the stories start "I was being the most carefullest person ever when . . ." or "I didn't ask for it but then . . ."

And he would like you all to know that he was a child when events mentioned occurred.


erin said...

I also wonder if I'm looking for someone mellower when I (to myself) imagine adding another child to our family.

Been catching up and enjoying (as always) your musings. Especially those on death, a subject I have been lingering on a lot lately. Not in a macabre way, just letting it in and observing it.

abebech said...

I'm glad I'm not alone in this, but I'm not sure what to do with it! Thanks, Erin.

Anonymous said...

You are the Yin to their Yang.
It makes you Special :)
and In your own way- you are bold and daring- you just don't do it as loudly--- and its sort of thrust upon you :)

as for the WTF suggestion.

I've always considered writing a book titled:

"One from the WTF Closet".

A series of short stories about odd things in life (travel tales/weird guys,etc) Something to make people laugh and feel that they aren't so alone when the unusual happens.

So I agree with DH (man thats been happening a lot lately-- scary)- you should start collecting stories!!!