Opinion piece by Edmund Burke
The Genes –
They say the apple doesn’t fall far from the tree and the birth of my first son seemed to prove the rule. He has dark hair and white skin like his dad. He has green eyes like his dad that retreat into dark caves when he’s tired. My wife must have felt like my genes had stomped all over hers because our firstborn looked like he was all me. It was so striking that I wrote about it
at the time, trying to express the discomfort I felt at having basically reproduced myself.
My parents have a picture of me when I was three with a tuft of hair sticking out on the side of my head. I have one of my boy at the same age with the same tuft of hair, refusing to stand down, just like mine did. My mother thinks she is time-travelling, looking through a window in the past every time she Skypes from the other side of the world and gazes dewy-eyed at his familiar family head.
There’s an old wives’ tale that the firstborn always looks like their dad to stop the father fleeing from the house in horror shortly after the baby arrives home. Maybe that’s true. It would be a bit like fleeing your reflection or leaving behind a lump of your own flesh.
So when number two came along I suppose I just assumed we’d be getting another ‘mini-me’. Or at the very least, that he might resemble me in some way. He might have had my nose, my jaw, me eyes?
But he doesn’t. Not at all. Not even a little bit. He has curly blond hair and blue eyes. His skin is so white his limbs resemble a chicken sausage. He’s built like a spring. If he had little wings on his back and a golden bow and arrow that would be perfectly appropriate. If I were of a suspicious nature I’d be getting some tests done or, at the very least, investigating any blond-haired, blue-eyed associates of my wife. Let’s just say, if I hadn’t been there when it happened, I’d be suing the hospital.
Probably the best family resemblance I can see is that he looks like his nanna. So having dealt with the unease of having reproduced myself, I now have to deal with the discombobulating feeling of having reproduced my mother-in-law. I’m kidding, of course.
I love this little changeling just as hard as I love the other one. The experience has just been so weird, like popping a bun in the oven and opening it to find an ostrich egg, or digging in deep for a bogey and pulling out a jelly bean. Some people get a mix of both parents, but for us it has been all or nothing. My wife still hasn’t scored herself a mini-me but, based on our track record, maybe one of the boys will be able to supply her with one in old age.
He’s three now and even he has realised that his big brother looks like Dad and he doesn’t. We get each other, though, and we get along just fine. He may be from another world but he’s welcome in mine— unless he does start growing wings. That will be crossing a line.