Our children grow up way too fast. One day they're learning the alphabet, the next they have letters like PHD, BS and MFA tagged on to the end of their name. We look at them and wonder how in the world did they get to this place? How much did they learn from us?
I came face to face with this question the other day when my daughter Anna called me up in a state of panic. She had lost something valuable in the wash. She was taking the dryer apart and needed a socket. I don't even know what a socket is, I told her. And how in the world did she know what she was doing?
"Oh, Mom, please," she groaned. "Never mind." I imagined her rolling her eyes as she hung up the phone.
She called back a few minutes later, this time in need of a flashlight. That I could handle. A few minutes later, I showed up at her house to find her in the garage, covered with grease. She had retrieved her invaluable item and was reassembling the dryer. On her command, I handed her one screw after another, watching her use that socket thing. In no time at all, the dryer panel was back in place.
"How do you know how to do this?" I asked, thinking back to when she played with Barbie. Even Ken didn't have these skills. And she certainly didn't learn it from me!
"I just do," she answered. Her exasperated sigh could be heard throughout the neighborhood. "Now shine the light inside the dryer."
I did and while she connected yet another part, a light went off inside my head. Anna must have been paying attention to her father.
As I watched, I took note of who she had become. She's a good cook, enhancing almost every recipe with her own special touch. I'm not. I don't know the difference between paprika and saffron, except that the latter is more expensive. She had to have gotten her culinary skills from her father.
She reads directions, from the first word to the last before putting together toys, computers or whatever needs assembling. I don't. I rush full speed ahead and wonder why the hell things fall apart. Another trait inherited from her dad.
Anna can hit the bull's-eye with a bow and arrow, just like her old man. I can't even pull the bowstring into shooting position. And both she and her father can create beautiful drawings which actually look like the scenes they are creating; whereas, I can almost draw a realistic stick figure.
Hmm … deep down, I know she's still her mother's daughter. What special traits has she inherited from me aside from anatomical parts?
After about an hour, Anna stood up, brushed her hair out of her eyes and smiled. She had succeeded at her task. And at that moment, it dawned on me—persistence. That's something I know all too well.
Looking at her, an attractive young women, I suggested she advertise around the neighborhood as "Handy Panties R Us." She has the body for it and times are tough these days. She might get lots of business.
"Oh, Mom," she said. But for one split second, the design of a Handy Panties poster flashed through her mind. I could just tell, a mother's intuition.
Oh, and there's one other very important thing Anna inherited from me: those sparkling diamond earrings, which she had just retrieved from the depths of the dryer and were now back in her ears.
Next time they needed to be cleaned, I suggested she leave them on and take a long, hot shower.