My daughter’s becoming her own person

But she did inherit my wife’s good looks and my sense of humor

Our daughter is halfway through her first year of middle school. My initial impression: It's a far cry from the days of coloring and recess.

Homework is plentiful and actually really challenging. Here's a recent exchange that took place while we were poring over a rather lengthy worksheet:

Me: “I don't want to do long division. I want to watch the Bruins.”

Actually, that was the extent of the conversation. It was just one whine, followed by me helping with the homework. But it prompted me to think about what skills my wife and I may have passed along to her as she works toward the next phase of her life. What innate traits or abilities was she taking to school every day, and which of us was responsible? Here's what we found down at the Dad-on-Board labs:

Physical appearance: No question here. She looks exactly like my wife, Amy. Her brown hair, big brown eyes, stature, the way she carries herself, and even the impossibly strange contortions she gets herself into when she sits down and crosses her legs. She's my wife's mini-me.

Results: She can thank her mom for her good looks.

Height – or lack thereof: Sorry, kid. She was usually in the first percentile of the growth charts each time we'd bring her in to her pediatrician. My wife and I are not giants. Amy is a little over five feet tall, and I'm on an downward trend that started at the dizzying height of five feet, eight-inches. She hit a growth spurt recently, so while she has shot up a bit, she isn't about to center anyone's basketball team.

Results: It's a tie. If you had to describe my height, you might use the term “squat.” My wife, thankfully, is “petite.”

Interests: I was tapping away at the keyboard in our computer room recently when I heard a sound coming from the living room. It was the sound of nothing. This was a Sunday afternoon when the billionth episode of a “Shake it Up” marathon should have been playing on the Disney Channel. Instead, silence. I went in to see what was wrong and saw both of the ladies of the house engrossed in their own books. Nicely played, wife.

Results: I got into trouble in high school more than once for sneak-reading pulp novels in class instead of paying attention. However, my wife was the salutatorian of her class. I'll defer to her.

Sense of humor: On New Year's Eve 1980, I first saw “Monty Python and the Holy Grail.” It changed my life. So much so, that I think it seeped into my DNA and has exhibited itself through my daughter. Her favorite TV shows are all comedies, her belly laugh is contagious, and even the most obtuse Python reference doesn't go unappreciated around here. Meanwhile, I once heard my wife laugh during “The Daily Show.” I think.

Results: It's not that my wife doesn't have a sense of humor. It's just that hers is more of an internalized laughter. A wordless guffaw, as it were. A silent chortle, if you will. I'm just going to claim victory on this one, in the name of the Batley Townswomen's Guild, Ken Shabby and Arthur, King of the Britons.

In conclusion: No matter how much we think we might see ourselves in her our daughter is absolutely an individual. She's not exactly me, not exactly my wife. Instead, we've watched her become her own person. And that, I think, will serve her well.

Bill Burke is a squat writer living in southern N.H. with is his allegedly hilarious wife and petite daughter.

Categories: Dad on Board