Lecture on Mendelian Inheritance Delivered to Rapt Morning Audience
“Daddy has a high lip and I have a high lip! Mommy and I have the same nose!"
As parents, we have never been much into the question of which of us Kina looks like. Whenever somebody has brought up the topic, we have sort of shrugged it off, seeing as we mostly think Kina looks like Kina. From time to time, we unearth a photo of ourselves when we were two, but we always talk about how much we look like Kina in those pictures, rather than the other way around. Kina has, from her first sonogram, always looked like Kina, and parts of us are there with her, but on her own terms.
At breakfast this morning, Kina was exploring those parts of us that are part of her, because I got to talking about which of us donated her outstanding eyebrows (me, I would say, though Laurea may differ) and Kina decided to run with the idea. Here is where she landed:
High Lip: Daddy
Ears: “All the ears look the same”
We don’t know where her very curly hair is from, though it’s probably recessive on both our sides. Her belly laugh seems very much of her own making (though neither of us can recall our own four-year-old chuckles). Her side-eye comes from Laurea, her pout from me. Kina’s love of unicorns is reinforced genetically by both her parents. Both Laurea and I hope that Kina’s eyeballs and teeth come from me, but it’s too soon to tell; we’ll know by the time she’s ten. Kina’s sense of humor is mine, and her sense of outrage is Laurea’s. Her cute tiny hands are a mystery.
My father is Chinese and my mother is white, which has always obfuscated the ways in which I see myself in them, which is not to say that I don’t; pictures of my father as a small boy look in many ways like an echo of me, and there are many aspects of myself that I see in my mother. Adults tend to reflect on the ways in which they resemble their parents with an uncomfortable sense of destiny, though I admire my parents enough to feel a sense of relief (as long as I don’t have my Dad’s wonky knees). As a parent, I don’t know how much of myself I need Kina to carry on her shoulders—or her eyebrows—but I hope she’s comfortable with me. Ultimately, I want Kina to be Kina, even as I’m secretly thrilled to have my high lip along for the ride.