Friday, December 27, 2013

Genetics: We pass it all down. The good, the bad and the ugly!

From the beginning, when our offspring are still growing and kicking on the inside, we wonder...who will she look like? Will he have his dad's big hands and feet? His grandpa's red hair? This new one entering the gene pool will carry traits from ancestors, many of whom they will never meet. 

The majority of what our children become is most closely linked to momma and daddy. My 18 year old Rebecca, is almost a clone of me. It's been like that since she was born. I produced a mini-me. Actually, there's not much of her dad in her at all. She's an Underwood through and through. Not only does she resemble me, but her talents, traits and hobbies are mine as well. She's a hair twirler. All of my dad's sisters did that. Eight of them, I think. I never had that habit, but all of my Underwood aunts did. Rebecca never knew any of them. They are scattered all over, so she has never been around them. She winds a little hair around her index finger and pulls it along the hair. It's a coping mechanism. She says it's either that or picking her cuticles. That would be from me as well. 

My dad was a thumb twiddler. He rolled his thumbs around and around each other, probably not even realizing he was doing it sometimes. When James was little I looked over at him in church, and there he sat, twiddling his thumbs. My dad died when James was two. I asked him if he had ever seen anyone do that and he said no. He just liked doing it. 

Both of my daughters have my love of music and singing. They can carry a tune and love many different genres. The Chaffins are singers too, so I should be fair and not take all the credit there. James, however, was not blessed with the gift of music and song.

Then there's the "bad" stuff they get from us. Rachel and James had wisdom teeth that tried to come in sideways. The top of the tooth would have poked out the side of their gums, if there was enough room for them, which of course, there was not. Narrow jawbones. Underwoods have strong genes. Apparently, ingrown toenails are very hereditary. Rebecca has yet to thank me for that. 

James has my dad's height, my long neck, and more of his dad's personality traits than mine. He likes working with his hands like his dad and both Grandpas. Like them he doesn't care much for academics and only likes school for the fellowship. 

If you want to know what a girl is going to look like in twenty or thirty years, usually, just look at her mom. Sure there are lots of girls who more closely resemble their dads and boys who are more like their moms. Sometimes a girl looks more like her aunt than her mom. Genetics are strange. They skip around the generations landing on whichever newbie they chose. 

We pass it all along. The good. The bad. The ugly. Not just genetics determine our offspring's appearance and behavior, but our homes and lifestyle. They learn what they live and are probably going to repeat it as adults. For better or worse, most kids end up with a marriage similar to the one their parents had. They learn about work ethics and morals. Or they learn to be lazy, believing they are entitled and live off hand outs. It's nice to know there are some things we can control. Can't do much about body type, eye color, height or how straight teeth come in. But we can try and help them grow into responsible adults who aren't a burden to society. Hopefully, we can do that in spite of however the genes collide.