“And what are you, Miss?” the brightest one of the bunch asked. She was clearly the most forward one of the group and the others had probably egged her on to ask the question.
“What do you mean, Fearne?” I replied.
She was quick to reply. “I mean, where do your ancestors come from? Can you tell us, Miss?”
Our Grade 3 homeroom had been studying the genealogy of all the children in the class. Parents had submitted very interesting family histories and we plotted on the world map the countries where any of the children had ancestors.
“Well,” I began, “I was born in America, but my parents were born the island of St. Lucia in the Caribbean. My mom’s ancestors were from England, India, and Ghana. My father’s ancestors were from France and Scotland.”
But apart from the genealogy I presented to my class, there are other traits my partner and I have passed on to our children. As my preteen daughter strides across a room, I see my grandmother’s gait, long and purposeful. She walks like she’s in a rush, as my grandma always did, and I remember as children we were always trying to keep up with her.
My 6 year old son and I dance together like there is no tomorrow. All he needs is an invitation from me and some music, and off we go! Once any of our favorite songs is in earshot, we’re both up and dancing, much to the horror of my other child and my husband. My daughter, like her father, refuses to dance. No rhythm, I suppose. They both claim that they are incapable of such things.
I look at both my children’s faces and I am always amused by the patchwork of body parts taken from my husband and myself which have gone into creating the individuals our children have become. Whatever physical trait one child has of one parent, the other child has of the other parent, making the two completely dissimilar in looks and actions.
Physically speaking, my daughter has her dad’s hair, eyebrows, lips, and body type. She has my eyes, nose, and gender (of course). Meanwhile her brother has my hair, eyebrows, lips, and body type. He has his dad’s eyes, nose, and yes, gender.
I managed to inherit my mom’s temper, which must be the reason we can lock horns within hours of being together. The ability to flare up at a moment’s notice was a trait I always noticed about her when I was a child. The high shrill of her voice still rings in my ears. It was brought to my attention by my then-boyfriend at 22 years old, that I also become very crabby when annoyed, accompanied by said tone of voice.
I always comment to my daughter that she and her dad have the most perfect eyebrows. The ones that never need reshaping or plucking, not uncontrolled and ever in need of a good trimming like my son’s and mine. And everyone related to my husband on his mom’s side could be hand-models. They have the long, beautiful fingers of a pianist, with long, naturally well-manicured nails. I’m so jealous of them. But at least I can dance.
My son and I have an affinity for learning foreign languages, as did my father, whom I never spent much time with growing up. Meanwhile, my daughter and her dad are mathematical creatures, who thrive on solving numerical equations.
In the end, I suppose, it’s perhaps our less visible characteristics that define us and we’re pleased to pass on these traits to future generations.