When you have children, people seem to be desperate to tell you who they look like.
Some people tell me my children are the double of me, and other people tell me they’re the spitting image of my husband, and I just smile and say yes. It’s easier that way.
I’ve never been very good at recognising parental resemblance myself, although sometimes I’ll catch an expression or a certain stance and see one of the child’s parents so clearly it shocks me. But when people start talking about a child having the dad’s nose, I’m usually pretty baffled. Babies always have baby noses, and their dads usually have adult noses, and I just don’t see it.
Now that my son is three, we’re moving into a new phase. We’re starting to know much more about who he is, and learn who he is like, which I find much more interesting than who he looks like. Last night, I was trying to bath both of my children, which isn’t easy because she has dry skin and we don’t use bubbles, and he refuses to get in without bubbles. So she’d been in and out and was rattling the stair gate like a mini prisoner and he was still wandering around, naked, thinking about brushing his teeth.
He said he wanted to squirt the bubbles into the bath. I said he could, but he had to get in first. He said he wasn’t getting in until he’d squirted the bubbles. Neither of us would back down. We had a stand-off for a good ten minutes, while I put a nappy and a vest on my daughter and put her to bed. Where the hell does he get this ridiculous stubborn streak from? I wondered. Oh…
It would be great if you could pick and choose the best attributes from your partner and yourself and assign them to your children. Person A’s ability to stay cool in a crisis and quick thinking, plus person B’s excellent driving skills and social ease. And what if there’s a quality or skill that neither of you possess? My husband and I already argue about who’s going to have to help the poor kids with their Maths homework, and neither of them are at school yet.
It’s all a case of wait and see, like so much of parenting. I’m looking forward to many moments of recognition in the future, both good and bad. Like, oh no, there’s my husband’s inability to tell a good story right, but hooray, there’s his passion for justice and equality. I’m pretty relaxed about it, knowing that we’re both good people with the odd questionable trait. We’ll keep looking into those tiny mirrors we call our children, seeing bits and pieces of ourselves.
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Laura is a writer who lives in Leicestershire with her husband and their two children. When she’s not writing or reading, she can usually be found trying to get her son to put his shoes on, encouraging her daughter to sleep past 5am or moving small items from one room to another. You can follow her on Twitter and on her blog about getting cancer when she was pregnant.