Saturday, November 10, 2007

Nature 1: Nurture 0

Following LesbianDad's lead, I'm beginning a nature v. nurture tally in our little household. An interesting topic on both gender lines and well, in her words, because us non-biological parents are "all nurture, no nature."

The most recent example ocurred the other morning which belonged to a string of such mornings that I was single-parenting it as BioMom has been travelling for work a bit more as of late. Seven and I were doing our morning routine and she was chatting to me while getting dressed. The previous night had been a bit chilly and we had resurrected an old standby snack: warm honey milk.

Big was beside himself with this sweet treat, sucking it down at light speed and practically pounding his fingers into his hand using the sign for 'more'!

In fact, we ran out of milk. There was not a drop left in the house by bedtime.

So, here we were, the next morning.

Seven: Can I have some honey milk?

Me: No, Honey, (get it? 'honey' I called you 'honey'?) remember, we ran out of milk? Plus, that's really an after school snack.

Seven: Oh. . . I just thought maybe you would have gotten some by now?

Me, mustering patience and thinking that after they were in bed the previous night I lasted all of 30 more minutes before following them. I practically BEAT them to sleep. Even had BioMom been home I would have NEVER made it to the store to buy milk: Remember, Mom's not home. How could I go to the store?

A few minutes goes by.

Seven: Can I have some honey milk tonight after school?

Me: I dunno, honey (again with the pun!). We'll see if I get to the store and get some milk.

Seven: Okay. Let's make a SCHEDULE for snacks!

Me, stomach and neck muscles begin to tense: Schedule?

Seven: Yeah! Honey milk on Tuesday. . .

Me, interrupting: But we may not HAVE milk today.

Seven: Okay, honey milk on Mondays. . . Goldfish on Tuesdays. . .

This sort of schedule-making goes against all of my personal sensibilities. It feels like fingernails on a chalkboard.

Plus, it just adds another thing to my 'to do' list.

I imagine what the teacher at our Early Childhood and Family Education class would do in my shoes. She's the picture of patience, empathy and democratic-style parenting. She is focused, engaged, and intentional. When, for example, parents in class ask what to do with the toddler who hits or bites, she models holding the young one and praising them for their power and strength, all the while, redirecting their zealous energy to more appropriate outlets.

I'm sure she'd sit down and help Seven write out a schedule, let her go through the process of this. Help her choose healthy snacks and then, once she was neatly tucked back into the routine of her school day, she'd go to the store and fulfill the list.

When, say, a couple of weeks later, after the list had been forgotten for some time, and then was rediscovered by Seven in a moment of distracted boredom in which the schedule was noticed, peaking out from underneath the stove, and then re-taped to the refrigerator and, accompanied with an enthusiastsic announcement "It's Thursday! Time for our soy-nut milkshake!" she would eagerly pull out the extensive ingredient list and, happily, whip up the snack of the day.

I think: what would BioMom do?

BioMom would lovingly take part in the process of creating the schedule. It would be neatly written, lined with a plumb, and, ultimately, laminated.

She may even have the best intentions of helping to fulfill this wishlist. However, as soon as her right foot hits the accelerator, and her thumbs meet Blackberry, all thoughts of a snack schedule are vanquished. She feels comfort knowing that this, too, will happen to her clone-like daughter.

By the time after-school rolls around and I'm busy checking the list and trying to match it up with what's in our cupboards, they look at me quizzically: snack schedule?

Instead, I can only think in terms of Meyers-Briggs acronyms: Damn, she MUST be an ENFJ, where I am all INTP.

I guess we'll always have "N."

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