Nature vs. Nurture

I’m a big believer in nature.  Some things I’m sure are nurture, but really, I think there are genes and combinations of genes that we wouldn’t believe in our wildest dreams.  I’ve already written about Jake’s “torture gene.”  Not long ago, I read a book that said the proclivity to suck on something like a pacifier is passed down from generation to generation…  constant evidence supporting my AA analogy.

Almost every morning I am reminded of the constant battle between nature versus nurture.  To illustrate:

Nature: Every morning my son pops up like toast, some time between 4:30 and 5:30am.  He is naturally a morning person.  I too am more of a morning person than a night owl… as those who piled cans on me and toilet-papered my little innocent form, as I slept soundly through junior high slumber parties, will attest.  However, given that my alarm clock is set for 6:00am, one of us usually stumbles into his room, picks him up, and dumps him into our bed each and every morning, desperately hoping he’ll just roll over and go back to sleep.

Nurture: James came up with this game while playing with my nephew.  I call it “Smell My Feet.”  Here’s how it goes: Jakey puts his little toes in my face and then I’m supposed to hoop and holler and make a face about how bad they smell.  I like to say, “WhoooooWeeeee!  Your toesies smell like marshmallows and monkeys.  Or, your toes smell like butterscotch and basements.”  So, it’s a clear example of “nurture” when I’m laying there at 4:45am and Jake thinks it’s a great time to put his little toes in my face… Mmmm, no thanks.

Nature: Another of my fondest ways to wake-up is when I’m laying there in the dark and all of a sudden, a little finger goes up my nose.  Ha ha.  The more I block him, the funnier Jake thinks it is to torture my nostrils.  Clearly we did not teach him this game.  This is genetic.  As is the non-stop kicking in the stomach.

Nature: Jacob also thinks that my neck looks exactly like a saddle.  There’s nothing like having a 30lb. toddler climb up on your jugular and bounce up and down in the wee hours of the morning.  I am not a horsey.  Unless you consider me bucking him right off and pulling the sheet up over my head.

Nature: Ever since he could crawl, Jake has decided that he can’t really go back to sleep unless he is really close to me.  As in laying on me.  As in, his face must be ON my face.  His cheek must be resting on top of my cheek.  He came up with this all by himself.  He is not OK if I try to implement the Ross and Rachel “hug and roll” from Friends.  I squeeze him, and then roll him over toward his dad.  Nope.  Cheek to cheek.

So, as we can see, nature is the clear winner in this highly scientific examination of mornings with a toddler.  This weekend, James and I went away to the Napa Valley for a wedding and one of our first times away.  Of course, we’ve now been “trained” and can’t really sleep in…  James thought it was so hilarious to wake me up by imitating morning-Jake.  First he had to roll on me and gently kick me in the stomach.  Then he stood up in the middle of the bed.  When he pretended to pull the ol’ “saddle neck” move, he was in mortal danger.  Good morning funny man.


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