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
I was born on a Friday in May. Nine months before that, the planets lined up in a particular way, my parents decided to have sex and all those complex things that had to happen happened to create me.
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.
what a great post – I can so identify with you – I am sort of blind and did not know it when I was a kid – I thought everything was supposed to be blurry–kind of my own universe – did not know until I tried to read the board when I went to school that things were supposed to be clear
I too tried to make everybody happy and to this day hate discord
Love all your stories – but am not sure yet that I know where I am going and I am kind of old to be admitting this
Thank you, Lou Ann. I was able to get lasic later on but I was very nearsighted and wore glasses throughout school (when it wasn’t cool to do so). I survived all that and I think life is always a work in progress, you know. What we “want” changes and the definition of that is ever-evolving. And, some of the most interesting people don’t know what they want to do or “be” when they grow up, despite being “older.” :).
I’m glad you really do have what you always wanted! 😉
Took a while, but hey I’ve got many, many things to be happy about. :). Thank you, Margarita.
Nature and Nurture- both are intricate in their ways. I think Nature has more to do with what sense we acquire in ourselves from our thoughts and feelings and Nurture is nature’s outer counterpart- acquiring what we are taught and what we see around us in our environment while we’re growing up physically and mentally. Nature rejuvenates and changes throughout the life but how you’re nurtured once, that is it- it can’t be changed. That is how I feel.
Well, its a brilliant post. And I hope you get what you’ve always wanted everyday of your life. 🙂
It is definitely an intricate and delicate balance of things, you are right. Thank you for your kind comments — I’ll definitely take “brilliant!” :). And the same to you, I hope you do as well. ;).
I have always thought that if someone made a documentary film of my life, the soundtrack would be, “You Can’t Always Get What You Want”.
My problem is similar to yours, I don’t always want what I get.
For the record, I am an Only Child and I think that everything in life, Nature/Nurture/ Destiny/Fate, influences how we turn out.
I agree with you, Allan. It’s all those things influencing us and how we perceive them and then, for the most part, choose to live our lives. Thank you for your nice comment. I’ve had friends that are only children and there are distinct advantages there as well. ;).
There’s something about the way you write, Brigitte, and what you write about, that makes me feel like smiles inside.
The fact that you say that and get it means so much to me and seriously makes me feel all smiles inside, MW. Thank you dear friend. :).
This is a great post Brigitte! I love family stories and this is a keeper!
Thanks, Maggie. Glad you enjoyed. Those memories are worth revisiting sometimes. :).
First of all, it makes me sad to think of you as a small child unable to see clearly. I hope that didn’t last too long. 😦
Second of all, I enjoyed your take on nature vs. nurture as much as–and maybe more than–a scientific review on the subject. 🙂
Hey Carrie, it wasn’t that bad! I did eventually get glasses as a little girl and then lasic as an adult so I can see clearly now (it all kinds of ways) :). And thanks so much for your nice comment, just my humble take on the subject.
Oh Brigitte…life is like a box of chocolates, you never know what you’re gonna get – unless you pinch all the bottoms! : ) I must know, were you a conniption or hissy fit pitcher?
Ha!!!! I think I was a bit of both or a lot of both, depending on the situation. :). You never know when you’re fixin to pitch either a hissy fit or a conniption one. 😉 Thanks, Honie.
I snorted over your response at the gift. Thanks for the laugh!!
Thank you and thank you for getting the humor of it. :).
What a charming post! Out of the mouths of babes come words of wisdom!
That’s so sweet, Diana. Thank you!! :).
What a lovely story you’ve woven here, Brigitte! I, too, was nearsighted as a child and have reflected on its impact on ‘who I am.’ It certainly shaped my experiences at school, both living without eyeglasses (when I needed ’em, feeling dumb for a long time when everyone else could read the blackboard except me) and living with eyeglasses (when all I wanted to do was lose them so I didn’t look so dorky). It made me afraid to swim in the ocean ’cause I couldn’t see where my family was up on the beach and even in the pool in high school, because without the glasses on, I could never tell who was on my team in water polo or which one of the taller figures walking around the pool was my teacher. When I tried to go without the eyeglasses as a teenager, I’d stroll down the street looking down at my feet all the time. It became my M.O., and was a habit I had to try and break as an adult even after I got contact lenses. It may also be why I spend more time avoiding eye contact than making it. That’s just a few minutes reflection on its impact. I’m sure I could go on. Anyway, great post!
Sue, it seems like you and I have so much in common! What you’ve said is what I’ve experienced, growing up and as an adult. I guess I still do the same thing as you. It’s odd that now, glasses are cool, but when you and I were children — not so much. Thank you for enlightening comments — they resonate with me so much! And thank you for taking the time to read and express yourself — it is so appreciated. 🙂 I never realized why I do what I do and you’ve expressed it so eloquently that now I get it. YOU ROCK.
🙂 I knew I liked you for good reason! LOL.
Two other things that I was thinking of, then I’ll bid you a good night…
One… sports. Even though I have an athletic build and love doing things that require strength and agility, I was always so worried to break my glasses (how many times did you have to break the news to your parents that your broke your eyeglasses… again!) that I refrained from all sports. I soon thought I had no ability for sports and that remained my story the rest of my life.
Two… empathy. Feeling dealt a card short of a good hand, I had a heck of a lot of empathy for others, much like you did… always seemed to understand why someone might feel bad about themselves. That has made me quite a few friends over the years. I have always thanked my eyeglasses for that part. 🙂
Sue, seriously we are kindred spirits. I too had an “athletic build” but was so afraid of sports. I could’ve been a good basketball player, but my glasses got in the way. Maybe that’s why I was a cheerleader in high school and then became a competitive bodybuilder in my mid-late 20s, trying to prove myself. But, because of my experiences, I developed a sense of having an understanding of those who couldn’t do this or that. So, I’m like you, I thank my “not seeing” for seeing others. You get it. Thank you and seriously your beautiful writing says that. It really does.
You are sweet. Thanks, Brigitte! I would object to your compliment but it’s too late (11:59pm west coast) so I’ll just let that be the last thought for this lovely day. G’nite!
great post! I think alot of who we become is a result fortunately and unfortunately of how the nuturer(s) handle our truest nature.. if your lucky, your nature was allowed to flourish
You are so right, dear friend and thank you. 🙂
Having three daughters, all very different, I have thought about this topic a lot over the years. Great topic and post as always Brigitte. Thoroughly enjoyed reading it. 🙂
Thanks so much and glad you enjoyed! :).
Just what I always wanted , such sweet memories!
They certainly are and very nice to revisit sometimes. Thanks, Ma-ma. :D. xxoo