When I was in college, I had to write a paper imagining what my life would be like 10 years after I graduated. I happened to already be engaged at the time, so I had an idea of where I was heading. My assignment brought to life my new family with four children, two girls and two boys. The kids enjoyed the same activities as my husband and me: the boys played little league baseball, and the girls took dance classes. It was a simple life of harmony.
I was majoring in psychology at the time. We often discussed the nature vs. nurture debate. In my paper, I relied heavily on the idea that nature was going to win in the end. After all, my parents, brother and I all had a lot in common. I always felt like I was just like my parents. Therefore, I assumed that, naturally, my children would be just like me.
Fast forward 23 years. There are so many times that I look at my children and think “Who ARE these people, and where did they come from?!” Now, I will admit that two of my children are adopted, so I understand why their personalities and interests are often very different than mine or my husband’s. But even the children that I nurtured in my body for nine long months often baffle me. That’s not to say that our children are so unlike us that we wonder if there was some kind of mix-up at the hospital when they were born, but there are certainly differences.
For example, when my sons start talking about video games, my eyes glaze over, and I feel like I’m listening to the teacher in the Charlie Brown cartoons. When my kids turn on rap music while they are hanging out in their rooms, my husband and I start looking for earphones. My oldest goes to see a lot of movies, many of which he loves and raves about but I wouldn’t see if someone paid me. I know some of it is just that times change, and kids don’t want to be like their parents, but I see more and more that sharing a gene pool and living in the same house doesn’t mean people are going to turn into clones of one another.
When I really think about it, my husband and I often have more in common with each other than we do our parents. I suppose that even though their children are in their forties, our parents are still shaking their heads, just like we tend to do on an almost daily basis, and say “Who are these people, and where did they come from?”