Tuesday, February 3, 2009

Where do babies really come from?

Where do our personalities really come from? Are Lola and Jackson's personalities written somewhere in their DNA? Is it formatted in their soul?

Having twins gives me a unique opportunity to watch 2 babies born to the same parents and raised in the same environment grow into very different people. Now I know that we influence them in different ways. I am not blind to the fact that I'm sure Aaron and I treat them differently.
And I know they have grown and changed with their surroundings. My children are learning and changing every day with each new experience. But simply acquiring their personalities as they experience and react to new things doesn't explain it all. That explanation doesn't account for the part of them I know they were born with.

Jackson is a climber. He climbs everything: the dresser, the changing table, the bookshelves, the oven. If there is something for him to grab on to and somewhere for him to put his feet he will climb. I have watched him try over and over to see what's on top of the --fill-in-the-blank---. I never tried to encourage this (why in the world would I?). So why does he climb? And why doesn't Lola?

Lola eats everything she can get her hands on. And I mean it...everything. Things I have pulled out of her mouth: shrimp tail, penny, spider, grass, rock, leaves, sticker, leftover food from the floor, countless pieces of paper. And this is not a complete list. And it isn't a matter of just putting it in her mouth and testing it's feel. She really tries to swallow it! Recently she has caught on to our "game" and whenever I catch her chewing on something she crawls away laughing as I chase her. I know every baby puts things in their mouth; that's their way of figuring things out. But she does this far more than Jackson. And she insists on not just chewing but swallowing everything. Why does she do this?

And these funny little things are the tip not the base of the iceberg. Lola and Jackson's emotional needs are so different. And they express those needs very differently. Jackson hugs me super tight when I get him out of his crib after a nap. Lola, even though she has often just been woken up by her brother, pops her head up and checks out what's going on around her. She like me to hold her, but she doesn't snuggle me like Jack.

Some of these difference come from being a boy and a girl. But certainly not even that explains is it all. Where is it written that Jackson will have a burning desire to search out vertical conquests. How can it be that Lola spits out carrots during dinner but when she finds a day old one on the floor she will fight with all her might to keep me from prying it from her mouth.

I don't often pose philosophical questions. I usually keep my musings on matters of science and religion to myself. And I certainly don't want to discount the power of external influences. But as I watch my son and daughter become who they are as toddlers I can't help but wonder when this process of "becoming" started. At conception? Sometime during the pregnancy? At birth? And where in them is it dictated? Somewhere in the strands of their DNA? Or maybe in someplace scientists can't see, even with the most powerful microscope?

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