Tuesday, April 30, 2013

Dad: Genetic Hand-Me-Downs

Every superhero has a weakness. Superman crumbles at the sight of kryptonite and copy editors. Batman is addicted to self-loathing. The Human Torch is allergic to asbestos and modesty. Even Kobe Bryant tore his Achilles Tendon, which, of course, was the only spot left vulnerable when the gods dipped him in the River Styx at his birth.

Baby Kobe averaged just 18.0 points per game before this procedure.

As the closest thing to a superhero my daughter knows, my weakness is a ticklish spot at the base of my neck. All a person need do is point at it and I become a powerless, twitching heap on the floor like Luke Skywalker in the final battle scene of Return of the Jedi, screaming for somebody to come help me before I die.

said every kid ever just before fun tickle time turned into crying.

That little spot is my Achilles Heel, if you will, and has been for as long as I can rememb. And guess who inherited it from me?

Those are tears of joy, I swear.

My wife discovered it on Susan one morning and yelled for me to come look. I jumped out of the shower to go see, I was so excited. “Why is this guy so worked up about his daughter being ticklish on the neck?” you may be asking. “Isn’t 95 percent of the world ticklish on the neck?” you may say. “Wait, did he put a towel on after he jumped out of the shower? Because he didn’t say.” Yes, I was wearing a towel, and I was so excited about it because my wife is not ticklish on the neck, so this genetic hand-me-down is all me. And isn’t that one of the greatest things about being a parent? Seeing what pieces of you and your wife show up in your kids? What makes you who you are in turn making your kids who they are?

My daughter has always looked like my wife, but as it turns out, she has my eyes. Physical traits like hair color, eye color and which parent they look like are all wonderful to see develop. But other traits reveal themselves later and continue to surface over the course of a lifetime. Maybe you’re a writer of fiction like BabyCenter blogger Charlie Brooks and your son pens a story in the first grade that is actually pretty good. Maybe you played soccer in college and at your daughter’s first Pee Wee soccer game, she runs circles around everybody. Maybe you play the piano and by age three your son can bang out a full scale and a couple harmonies. Or maybe they’re just 13 months old and they have the exact same tickle spot as you.

For somebody who’s going through this for the first time, it’s exciting stuff, like rubbing away a lottery scratch-off ticket that you know you’re going to win. So even though all I have right now is Susan’s blue eyes and a tickle spot, that's cause for plenty of excitement with much more to look forward to. And one day when she turns to me and says, "You're not the boss of me," well, she gets that from her mother.

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