Moulding Madame Mini-Me

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Leo Govan

Leo GovanThe thing about life on this watery ball is that it is incredibly diverse.

I take a look at the people who move around me in this busy metropolis and I wonder about what their story might be. How did they get to be who they have ended up to be now (right up to the point that they’ve decided to cut across me on the escalator or rushed past me when I am holding open a door without so much as a thank you)?

Of course, I will never know the stories behind these people but I find myself looking at the Small Human and wondering how she is going to turn out. Will she be a pony-obsessed little Madame who demands a Mini for her super-sweet sixteen, or will she be a nature-loving, new-aged girl who rejects all earthly materialism? Both are extreme but at the very least my wallet has a strong opinion on these polarisations.

I also find myself wondering whether I can add something into the mix that will significantly shape her and yes, I mean into my own little mini-me. After all, can I inject my love of exercise (I once saw a programme about an Eastern-European family that tied little weights to their baby’s arms and legs to lead it on the path to physical excellence) or can I encourage her to pick up a guitar and “rock out” like her old man did when he was teenager? My other half also has distinct opinions on how she would like her daughter to turn out… Creative and expressive, delicate and demure to name but a few wonderful (and slightly idealistic) feminine traits.

But what have we got so far? Well, the Small Human screams and shouts with delight and excitement constantly while smashing her tiny fist up and down on a toy piano (that’s delicate and demure out the window but at least 1-0 for creative and expressive?), and she does, in my eyes at least, a kind of sit-up/crunch when attempting to escape any kind of chair that we strap her into. So, there’s some hope yet that I am crafting a creature in my own image.

I also think back to how much I am like my own parents and the only inherited peculiarity that I can think of is that I now automatically switch the car radio to Radio 4 rather than Radio 1, though this could also be down to my advancing age so the jury is still out there.

The reality, however, is that I think there’s only so much nurture can alter nature. She will be whatever she chooses to be and no amount of funnelling by her parents will dictate her outcome. OK, if I get her early enough she’ll be persuaded to like Marmite, but other than these fairly superficial traits we won’t know what we’re getting for a while yet.

But surely this is the interesting bit? If it was all so easily mapped out it would take some of the fascination out of the parenting process and I think that most of us would agree that it wouldn’t be quite so much fun then.