When Sean was first born, some people wondered if I was really his mother. He looked nothing like me. When his 85-year-old great aunt first laid eyes on him in the NICU she declared that she could have picked him out as Antique Daddy’s boy out of 1,000 babies. And she was right. They were both bald and had prominent chins.
These days the boy looks more like me – uncooperative hair and usually wearing food. No matter whom he currently resembles, the quirky things he does that his quirky antique parents both do, makes him undeniably our offspring. And I have to wonder – how much of our weirdness is genetically hard-wired into his little (but obviously exceptional) brain?
Sean’s father is an obsessive wiper-downer and I am an obsessive picker-upper. He deals in clutter, but can’t tolerate dust. I’m okay with a little dust, but can’t function in disorder. Antique Daddy will tell you that if he gets up to use the bathroom in the middle of the night, I will make the bed while he’s gone. But he is a wiper-downer and that is way weirder. The second he boards a plane and gets in his seat, he pulls out his Clorox Wipes and wipes down the tray, armrests, seat back in front of him, anyone sitting next to him — and then shows the grimy gray gossamer remains to any flight attendant that will make eye contact with him. Much weirder than putting your glass in the dishwasher anytime you put it down.
So, the other day I’m busy in the kitchen, putting things away, and it’s kind of quiet, so I look into the den to check on the boy, because you know, toddler + quiet = bad. Anyway, he’s in there with a now empty box of baby wipes, wiping things down – the TV, the sofa, the coffee table, the toy box, his books, my books, his hair. And this is the scary part — he makes eye contact with me over the breakfast bar, holds up the cloth to show me and victoriously exclaims “Doot!” (which in English means “dirt”). And then he gives me the same “Can you believe this filth??” look that his father gives the flight attendant.
The next day, I picked Sean up a little early from school and I had an opportunity to stand at the half-door to his classroom unobserved for a few minutes and watch him. Playing? Napping? Crying for his Mommy? No. He was tidying up the classroom. That’s my boy.
This post was originally published in October 2005.