“Just thought I'd let you know that [your grandson’s] tooth cut through! Just noticed this morning,” read the text from my daughter-in-law. That was a week ago.
So the drool was in fact the precursor of teeth, even at three months, in January, when I first proposed the idea that our grandson might be teething. Signs of teething, at three months. Could it be?
Well, yes. His father was also a drool machine at three months. He cut his first tooth at four and a half months. Our beautiful boy was five months old on Tuesday.
His length and weight also eclipse the norms for his age. By five months, his father, my son, had mushroomed to twenty-two pounds. Could this be just coincidence? Or rather some evidence for the critical role our genetic inheritance can play in our lives.
I’ve always believed that nurture affects our nature more than, well, nature. The environment in which we are born and raised determines to a greater extent than our genes our propensities and physical characteristics, I have staunchly maintained. The jury seems to be out on whether nurture or nature has the greater effect; both work in combination to produce the human each one of us becomes.
Still, unexpected events give me pause. My father-in-law, a very social and sociable man fascinated by everything in life, adored conversation. He engaged every fibre of his being in the exchange, eyes riveted on the other person, a smile on his face. When that person’s contribution to the conversation extended what he himself knew or had heard on the subject, his smile would widen, his head lift a tad, and turn a few degrees to the left and back again in amazement. Almost two decades later, while talking to his grandson, our younger son, I stopped in mid-sentence. My son’s eyes riveted on me, a smile on his face, his head lifted a tad, and he turned his head a few degrees to the left, and then back. In fact, I was the one amazed. My son was born five years after his grandfather’s death. He never knew him. Chalk up another one for nature.
Those images consume me as my son and his wife discuss their son’s physical development and his evolving tastes. Turns out our grandson loves music from the fifties, to the point that his father has begun a playlist of his favorites on Rdio. Now, one would surmise, he might be getting this preference from his dad, who plays bass guitar in a band. The only thing is, the band doesn’t play fifties music. At all. His father just exposed his son to a variety of musical styles, and noticed a heightened response for rock and roll from the fifties.
Here’s the thing. His grandfather, my husband, thrives on music from the fifties. When we travel by car, he keeps the radio on the Fifties station. (House rule: The driver chooses the radio station. In fact, that propensity has motivated me to assume my share of the driving, but that’s neither here nor there.) He grooves to the songs while driving, slapping his knees and the steering wheel to the beat. It’s happy music, he says. A person just feels upbeat when it’s on. Apparently, his grandson shares that opinion.
Add to that our daughter, the artist. My husband doesn’t draw. Neither do I. My mother, though, had a gift. Now, her granddaughter brings it to life. Yes, these observations are unscientific. But they astound me nonetheless, and, as I watch our grandson develop, I marvel at nature and our genetic inheritance all the same.