Definitely Your Kid

The tantrum, the attitude, the cries: my wife and I make eye contact…she’s YOUR child. Welcome to ParentalGrit, where we cruise into the weekend with a lighter look at one of the more hilarious aspects of parenting: where do the children get their inherent negative tendencies? If you missed it, we dove into an affectionate reflection on the finer things of parenting on Monday and talked about the miniscule milestones that define childhood on Wednesday. I have this really terrible joke I’ve made 10,000 times when it comes to my daughters’ attractiveness or behavior: something along the lines of “Well, we never did a DNA test.” If you pause and hold your breath, you can probably hear the faint echo of my wife’s groan as she endures my hilarious joke yet again. Along those lines, it’s been an enjoyable ongoing debate between my wife and I in regards to our daughters’ behavior: whose DNA is really to blame?

Like all good fathers, I do my best to take credit when Eliza is well behaved or receives a compliment; like all good mothers, my wife immediately rolls her eyes. While we usually go back and forth in nothing more than a joking manner, we do occasionally look at our girls’ habits and emotions and seriously consider who they are growing up more like. It’s easy to take a peek at a kid’s jaw line, hair color, or misshapen ears and identify which parent is responsible, but it is much harder to watch a child erupt in a public fit of rage and pinpoint which parent is really responsible for those genes.

My daughter, believe it or not, is quite dramatic for a two year-old girl. Whether it’s the elongated sad sobs over a missing sock or the life-threatening peril expressed at almost falling down, my daughter can turn the proverbial mole hill into the highest peak on earth. While this may just be the product of toddlerhood, potentially exacerbated by being a little girl, I sometimes flash my wife a suspicious eyebrow anytime we have to deal with Eliza’s drama. Could Eliza perhaps get some of her outlandishly dramatic tendencies from my wife, a former theatre major that can make our entire house shake with panic at the sight of a spider? My beautiful wife, who contemplates dialing 911 as she stubs her toe?

While this is my blog and I could continue my path to sleeping on the couch by only sharing mommy-daughter connections, I’ll confess that my wife sees a little of myself in sweet little Eliza. While I like to blame it on her being the oldest, my wife believes that our little daughter’s constant craving for attention may possibly come from her father. It doesn’t stop there either, unfortunately, as every time my daughter sulks and pouts, my wife looks in my direction. While my wife’s defense mechanism for not getting something she wants is direct (and typically loud), I’ll admit that I often react the same way as little Eliza: holed up in the corner punishing the room with my sulky behavior.

When it comes to attitude, however, we’ve driven a fine line down the middle on who we believe is responsible for the tantrums, the yelling, and the misbehavior. When the toddler volcano erupts, there’s not pinpointing who is to blame. Well, let me take that back; there is absolutely finger pointing, but no clear definition on who is really genetically responsible. My wife and I can debate for hours about who has worst temper, the most sass, and the greater penchant for inappropriate behavior, but we normally call it a wash and blame the grandparents. Regardless of whether it’s me or my wife’s fault, it’s pretty clear our kids are our own, no DNA test required.

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