(originally published January 14, 2009)
Nature vs. Nurture.
It’s an age-old debate on how we humans grow up to be, well, human.
Are we born this way? Do genetics and the complex pattern of chromosomes and science that has shaped us throughout generations mold us into the people we later become?
Or does the environment we’re raised in hold the trump card? Do our life experiences, our education and the people within our sphere of living play the dominate role?
In other words, is there someone else to blame for screwing us up?
Yes. Yes, there is.
And we call him Dad.
“Wow! That’s what I call a keeper!” my husband yelled from upstairs.
It was shouted in excitement. In that “I’m so proud” kinda way he gets when our 3-year-old throws the football in a perfect spiral across the yard.
But the fact that his latest bestowal of praise came from the bathroom should have been my first clue to turn around and walk away.
What I should NOT do is let curiosity get the better of me. It was, after all, what killed the cat.
I don’t know whose cat exactly. But it must have belonged to somebody important for the adage to have survived all this time.
And what was it so curious about, leading to its untimely demise? I can see how walking up to – say – a crocodile and asking, “Hey, what do you do for a living?” could end badly for the cat.
But normally cats just lie around, sleep, eat and stare at us as if they know something we don’t.
At least we know to stay away from crocodiles, you big dumb cat.
But I digress.
“Wow! That’s what I call a keeper!” my husband yelled.
(OK, he didn’t actually say it a second time. Just thought I’d get us back on track. And then this is the part where I walk upstairs rather than run for the hills. Stupid, I know. Shoulda just hunted up a crocodile and asked him if he’d eaten lunch yet).
I walked up to the closed door, rapped on its surface and inquired, “Uh, just what are you two doing in there?”
The giggle that answered me wasn’t very reassuring.
Yes, one might consider it none of my business, an invasion, if you will, of what is normally considered Man’s Domain.
His kingdom. The only place in which he can truly be himself. On the throne.
And apparently they were in there holding court together. But like Napoleon at Waterloo or General Custer at Little Bighorn or the even the cat and the hungry crocodile, I failed to sense the danger in moving forward.
I tested the door knob and discovered it was unlocked, so I slowly cracked open the door and leaned in.
There they stood, side by side, in front of the throne. Looks of admiration shone from their faces.
Oh, this can’t be good.
Especially considering the three-year-old still had his undies down around his ankles.
“Mommy!” our son and sole descendent of the family line exclaimed as he pointed into the bowl, “Look at what I did!”
Uh, thanks, but I’ll pass. I turned around and quietly walked downstairs. Wondering how – throughout thousands of years of civilization – these simple, male beings managed to conquer countries, get elected president, were deemed emperors and made kings while those of us - the fairer and smarter sex - were doomed to languish in obscurity.
Life was so not fair.
You know it’s gonna be bad when you smell it before you hear it.
My eyes watered and the breath caught in the back of my throat. And a little bit of throw-up was on its way too.
“Holy Mother of God!” I hollered, fighting back the nausea. “What is that smell?!”
I waved a hand in front of my face, a foolish belief that dispersing the odor into a wider area was the way to correctly handle the situation.
I opened my eyes to see the royal heir himself standing right in front of me.
“Don’t be scared, Mommy,” he assured me with the confidence and wisdom of a learned elder. “That’s just my fart.”
He smiled, headed for the bathroom and added, “Daddy says that means I have one honking for the right of way.”
I could only sigh.
Nature – 0. Nurture – 1.
You can e-mail Kelley Baldwin at firstname.lastname@example.org.