All of us are familiar with the arguments of nature versus nurture. I’m not an expert on this but from studying a little sociology and psychology and reading about the subject, there seems to be the conclusion that both have much to do with creating who we are. Duh.
I’m in no way discounting all these studies and theories and if I took time to study the subject more, I could write more intelligently about it, but I haven’t so I’m just giving you my take on it.
When the Planets Aligned Just So on a Certain Day
Had they been too tired that day or decided to get busy at a different time that day, I wouldn’t be me. Makes my head hurt to think about it. Nature.
My parents had four children — all girls and we share some similarities but we’re all so different. My older sister was always rebellious and my Mom said she was always “getting into something,” climbing, arguing and much attention had to be paid to her. My younger sister was the ultra-sensitive one and my baby sister, well, the BABY.
I was a good baby, a good girl and more than anything, I wanted to please everyone. I was the only one of us four that said Mama first. My sisters (those slackers) said Da-da, the easy word first. But, our parents, of course, treated us differently because of our differences — Nurture.
One Day On the Way to the Store
I’d like to think I “remember” this and I do in my mind’s eye, but it could very likely be I’ve created it from my parent’s memory — them telling me about it. My Dad was a farmer then and he’d often have to work very long hours, sometimes all night, to get the crops ready.
We lived in a very small town where everyone knew each other, people drove slowly and we didn’t wear seatbelts. My Dad had this old truck that he used sometimes to get supplies at the store. For whatever reason on this particular day, I went with him. I was three.
I was very nearsighted but I didn’t know that at the time. I guess I thought the world was supposed to look like big blurs everywhere. That’s most likely why I preferred to stay close to home, making myself a world where everything was close up and my parents just expected this of me. Nature and nurture.
Anyway, Daddy’s truck only had a drivers’ seat. He put a big box next to him and I sat on that big box next to him, carrying my drawing tablet with me. Daddy asked me before we left, “Brig, you wanna come up here next to Daddy so you can see out?”
“That’s okay, I know where I’m going.”
Over the River and Through the Woods to Grandmother’s House
Four years later, when I was seven and I clearly remember this — we made our traditional trek to our Grandmother’s house for Christmas dinner. We’d do this begrudgingly, because we really wanted to stay home and play with the presents we got from Santa, but at least we’d get more presents when we went over there.
We’d have to eat first, then open presents. My cousin, Austin opened his from my grandparents and it was that game, Operation. Some of you may remember the game, it was this naked guy with holes in him and you’d pick out his body parts with a tweezer-like thing. If you hit the sides of the holes where his organs were, you’d get buzzed. Perhaps this was preparation for young men to become doctors. I so wanted that present.
I opened mine and it was a pair of lacy socks and a sweater. Lame!! I (as we southerners say) PITCHED A FIT. I was mad, I cried and threw the box with the socks and sweater down on the floor saying, “I want Austin’s present!”
My mother marched over to me and said in a low voice, “Brigitte, come here.” We went back into the bedroom, away from everyone and she said, “Now, that’s not a nice way to act. Grandmother thought you’d look pretty in that sweater and you need some new socks. Now, you go out there and tell her, you’re sorry and thank her.”
I walked out of the bedroom into the livingroom where everyone was. My face was red and everyone — grandparents, parents, aunts, uncles and cousins were staring at me. “Thank you, Grandmother,” I sniffed, “It’s just what I always wanted.”
Everyone cracked up. This became a tradition from that day on. Every single Christmas, people would ask me, whenever I opened a present, “Did you get just what you always wanted?” Even now, they ask me that, every Christmas.
I don’t know all the complex things that make us who we are. Why we believe this over that. My parents always said, “Brigitte’s always for the underdog.” Why is that?
If I hadn’t been nearsighted, would I have been more outgoing as a child? If I gotten that Operation game when I was seven, would I have taken a different path? Is it fate or destiny that leads us to where we are? I think it’s like Forrest Gump said, “I don’t know if we have a destiny or if things are all floating around like a feather — accidental-like. I think it’s both things happening at the same time.”
I agree with Forrest. I’d like to think that little three-year me knew even then, that she knew where she was going. And really, right now, for the most part I guess I really do have just what I always wanted.