I have a question to start off today’s post. Would Mozart’s child necessarily have grown to be a musical sensation, if he’d ever had a child? Would DaVinci be an engineer or a painter? Is the Kennedy’s line really chock full of good political DNA? And if they would have, would it be a product of their DNA or their upbringing?
Nature vs nurture. It’s the name of the game today, folks. What makes someone good at what they do? This is for well or for ill. Do we bless or curse our children from the onset, or do we do it slowly over time by our every thought, word and deed?
My son is three and a half now. His father and I have both been frantically toiling away at our manuscripts, trying to produce a finished product we would proudly put our names and reputations to. Our son, of course, has been watching this. We haven’t sat down and had “story crafting time” or forced him to do theme flashcards, but he’s been alive during this process.
When my teaching semester ended and he and I sat down to face the summer out of school and daycare the question came, “What should we do now?” I came up with this crazy idea of having him craft a story on his own. He’d draw the illustrations, and I’d write down whatever his words would be to describe what was going on in it. I figured we would end up with a nonsensical story with characters and plots changing constantly, but we could do this every year. He could see how he’d improved over time.
I just finished having it bound and will be giving it as gifts to family members. It is actually not just one story, but three: “Doctor Memory”, “Connor Gets Fries” and “Connor and Aunt Susi’s Adventure.” The last one has a very Clive Cussler feel to it, though it goes a bit Dean Koontz at the end.
True enough, the stories are rudimentary, feature my son’s favorite things, have gapping plot holes and Shyamalan twists, but they are also complete stories. The characters actually do reach some goal at the end. One even has story structure enough that we can tell when the main character, Good Monster O, hits the monomyth’s Road Home section.
So where did he learn this trade? At three years old? Is this simply a product of nurture and seeing us do it? However, seeing and doing are two different things. I could understand the desire to be like Mom and Dad, but what about the talent? There are world famous authors who have never seen another human, let alone parent, write a line of anything. So, is it nature then? Has his DNA written him to be talented in the areas his parents have made him to be. That sounds a bit Brave New World for my tastes. Anyway, how could you explain the Baldwin brothers then?
My son and the world are a product of both nature and nurture. It’s hard to not have both, and I wouldn’t want my son growing up with just one or the other. He’ll continue to show us each day the things we could never do when we were his age. So maybe he’s just the next evolutionary leap in our lineages’ family tree. We should hold on, let him take us along on this bumpy and fun roller coaster, and stop questioning where he gets it from. He is just him, and we should take a step back and simply enjoy his masterpieces of the day.