Monday, September 26, 2005

Real-Life Genetics

My son is a product of his gene pool. I know that this is true. I look at my husband and at myself, and I see our son. I know exactly where each of his traits came from. Sweet and sour, generous and dour, every one shows up in his genes. Sure his nurture has something to do with it. I’ll be the first to give him credit for all he’s done with what he has. He’s a fabulous kid.

Still, I want to go to every high school. I want to give a lecture called “Real-Life Genetics . . . what they forgot to teach me in school.”

I had all of the stuff about Punnet squares. I know plenty about dominant and recessive genes. I can recite the basics of Mendel's experiments with peas. But nobody told me how the gene pool might apply to the life I was actually going to lead. It was nice to know that if I wanted my child to have blue eyes, I just needed a man with blue eyes like my own. Beyond that the rest was sort of filed under graduate level mysteries and packed up in a sentence that my mother often repeated, “I hope you have one just like you.” If only I had known.

You see that’s what genetics is about, getting one just like you—like combining the two of you together. But no one ever says that out loud.

When I had the occasional thought about marriage, genetics was far from my mind’s conversation. I knew about kids and child development. What else could possibly be in question? If I found a guy I could believe in, we’d build a history together. It would be a life that leaned toward laughter.

A thinker and a rebel, I took my time about it. A boring institution was the last thing that I wanted.

I met a guy who could keep up with me. It was a near-perfect match—a crazy, maverick engineer and a rebel, kids’ book publisher. Not a chance for boredom there. We discussed the thixotropicity of ketchup as I plopped some on my steak. He made it clear that a ruler sits on a throne, that a scale is used to measure things. I set him straight that in Kindergarten, science is only 99% true.

Then came the day our son was born, and the words gene pool finally had meaning. The Punnet squares worked out like this. Anal retentive engineer plus abstract-random creative writer equals an anal-retentive creative artist child who draws fabulous pictures in alphabetical order.

I cherish my husband of 23 years, but I must say for the record . . . had someone explained genetics properly, I might have picked a boring guy.

Don’t you think my son deserved half a chance?

—me strauss Letting me be
World Builders: Punnet Squares E Viau CSULA


Anonymous said...

All those theories work fine until you get to my mother. My mother refused to have any children who didn't look just like her. My mother had genes that were predatory and they seek out and destroy all other genes even to the second generation.

I look in the mirror now, and each day I see her more than I see what I used to think was me. I look at my children and see her mother and "mini-me" and I realize, that science held no sway over this woman. I suppose if I have to look like someone, I should be happy to look like the woman who conquered genetics.

Anonymous said...

The only way my parents know I'm also my dad's kid too is cause I have his 'first born' traits...take charge, figure things out, stubborn, dependable...

I look like my mom (just like my mom). I still occassionaly will be mistaken by people for my mom. I seemed to miss out on anything genetically inherited in the looks department from my's funny that way.

"ME" Liz Strauss said...

Hey Ned,
You got me this time. I had no idea that your mother was the woman who had conquered genetics. Had I known I would have covered the topic with more reverency. Now I just can't quit laughing at what you wrote.

"ME" Liz Strauss said...

Good morning, Jennifer,
I know what you mean about looks like Ned's mom and your mom, my mom had a strangle hold on the gene pool, I look just like her and my son looks just like me. When I would go to school, teachers would say, "You must be Eric's mom, you look just like him." That's all I heard at the recent family reunion.

It's kind of cool from the mom side though.

Anonymous said...

I thought a gene pool was where you got to ride to work in someone else's gene...


I thought gene pool was when everyone's had a secret pee in the swimming pool...


I thought Gene Pool was that actor with the funny hat from those 50s TV westerns...


I thought gene pool was that game you played with a table and a cue and the order of play was decided by the color of your eyes...

Okay, I'll stop now. Great article, Liz. :)

"ME" Liz Strauss said...

Thanks Gone,
I didn't know you had so many thoughts about gene pools. Someday we're going to have to have a ddep discussion. Unless you prefer the shallow end of the gene pool that is.


Anonymous said...

Of course your son deserved half a chance! With two parents, each brilliant in a different way, did he get half a chance, or double the chance?

Couldn't help it, Liz. He sounds like a terrific kid!

"ME" Liz Strauss said...

Good to see you!

Well, he's definitely the only grown-up in the family.

Anonymous said...

Love the statistical punning "1/2 a chance"....Enjoyed the read.

"ME" Liz Strauss said...

Thanks Silvermoon.
We try hard to please.