May 25, 2009

A Case of Genetics

Before I had kids I thought the whole "Nature Vs. Nurture" thing was a load of crap. Or rather, that the Nature part of it was. Boys played with cars because their parents gave them cars, they saw other boys playing with cars etc. Girls played with dolls because, well, that was what they were give, saw, so on and so on. And them, like many a dim witted future parent, I got pregnant with my son and planned the perfect, gender neutral nursery I could. Primary colors, alphabet blocks, nursery rhyme line painted on the walls, plenty of black and while "for brain stimulation" and you know what? His first word was truck.

The second time around I bowed to the desire to have a girly bedroom for my new baby girl but provided her with the same toys her brother had played with. Lots of primary colored things and plenty of cars. And for her first Christmas the toy she loved best was a baby. She couldn't walk or talk or even crawl, but she could cradle her baby and coo little songs to it.

And as they grow, I see their genes coming out more and more every day. Briton hates peas and carrots, just like his dad. Evie loves figs, just like her mom. Briton sleeps in the exact same mouth slightly open-head thrown back position that his father does. Evelyn hums songs to herself while she plays, much like I do while I work. Yesterday I told them both to go play on their own while I cleaned up and ten minutes later I found Evelyn sprawled out on a heap of pillows reading books (umm, that would be a mini me moment) and Briton seated at a table with art supplies scattered across it as he intently drew a detailed picture (future architect anyone?)

But Briton isn't just his daddy, and Evie isn't just me. In the whole of the Grimm clan, the infamous "Grimm Brow" (a face so terrifying people of all ages run in terror, ok, so not really , but it's pretty impressive) is most intense in my dainty little girl. And Briton's personality definitely runs more toward mine than his daddy's. Like me, he almost never stops talking.

This morning, Will's first home after arriving in the middle of the night (actually more like in the early morning) I awoke to hear Briton hopping down the stairs and rattling away at things in the kitchen. When we dragged ourselves out of bed twenty minutes later, it was to the scent of cinnamon toast. Butter and cinnamon toast. And there was Briton, proudly bustling away int he kitchen making a platter of sweet toast for us. Sure, some of the slices had huge clumps of butter melting right through the center where he had failed to spread it adequately. And he appeared to have decided half way through that hamburger bun toast would be even better than regular toast, but I couldn't help but smile at my little chef. And not just because I'm overwhelmingly glad he love s to cook as much as I do.

No, what was funny about the cinnamon toast moment was that it brought back vivid flashes of my childhood.

About the time I was six, I became obsessed with making my parent's breakfast in bed. Oh, it sounds nice, and I thought I was being the perfect daughter. But since I was a) not allowed to touch the stove and b) also not allowed to touch the coffee maker, I made uncooked toast and coffee grounds in cold water. Yumm. And my parents ate it. You can't get much more loving that that.

Pretty soon my mother taught me how to use the toaster oven. And in particular, she taught me how to make cinnamon toast. Which was great, except what she didn't realize was that Cinnamon was far to complicated a word for me to read at that stage. So on the first morning of my new toaster able breakfast making I climbed up onto the counter top and started rummaging through the red and white Shilling spice tins. I knew cinnamon started with a "C" and that it was a reddish brown colored powder. How many of those could there be? After peering into a few tins I came across what I thought was the spice I sought. It started with a "C", it was kind of a long word,and it was definitely a reddish-brown powder, a little more red than I remembered, but still close enough that I thought I'd hit the jackpot. But just in case, I decided to taste it. After all, I wouldn't want to give my parents pepper flavored toast, right?

Did you guess it? Yeah, it was not cinnamon, it was cayenne. My mother found me a few minutes later with my tongue sticking out under the sink faucet, trying my best not to cry as the mouthful of spice burned my taste buds to ashes.

I learned some important lessons that day. First, that milk stops the burning in your mouth after you eat a spoonful of Cayenne pepper. Second, that there are actually a few reddish brown spices that start with "c" (I'm not sure which would have been worse, Chili Powder or the Cayenne) and third, after my mouth was no longer a flaming ball of insanity and my mother gave me a taste, cinnamon on it's own taste pretty horrible.

For years after, our cinnamon tin always bore a big black "C" across the front, just in case.