Monday, June 11, 2012

Summer Jay: On Nature Vs. Nurture

A Caveat: Millie went to bed around 8:30 tonight, so I have possibly too much time on my hands. There are a lot of words in this post, but by all rights I should be working on my dissertation. Sorry. 
So, the other day I made this for for Kira. We promptly started calling it "the cave," and she and John have spent about an hour in there on each of the last couple days.
During one of these times of peace I was listening to music while working on this laundry pile (which represents nearly every piece of non-dress up clothes the Wamsteds own) when my attention was called to the cave by a competing tune. Well, "tune" is being gracious. See for yourself.
Kira is singing She'll Be Comin' 'Round the Mountain while keeping pretty good time on her drum. John, as you can see, is intermittently singing along. Here are some various points present and implicit in this picture that raise the tricky question of nature versus nurture.

1) John is not wearing a shirt. I went almost 48 straight hours this week without wearing a shirt. Kira said to me around hour 24, "Daddy, don't we usually wear shirts to dinner?" but I told her that I hadn't had one on all day, and I didn't want to waste that streak. This cannot be a coincidence.

2) You can't see it, but there are about 20 books on the floor of the cave. My mother has claimed that as a child I used to go out to dinner with 5 or more books, "just in case." 

3) John is singing completely off tune & off time, but with an incredible amount of gusto. If this doesn't remind you of a certain paterfamilias, then you are missing out on the best part of knowing me.

4) Kira is directing the jam session, demonstrating her blossoming musical leadership skills. I have been accused in the past of hijacking jam sessions with friends in order to lead the songs I like best. I would like to point out that someone has to lead, and sometimes these things suffer when everyone attempts to be democratic. But I digress...

5) There is shaker in John's lap that he sometimes shakes with the music, and sometimes chews on. I'm pretty sure this is nature, because I almost never chew on my instruments.

6) Kira is singing a made up a verse to the song. It goes something like: "We'll all go swim in the lake when she comes" and so on. I can tell you for sure that this is nurture, because I make up verses to this song all the time to  fit in with whatever we are doing. That one is a Kira original, though.  
Postscript: Ten minutes or so later Kira asked me if she could bring her sleeping bag in the cave. I told her she had to take everything but her brother and the toy he was playing with out first. This is what she managed to unpack. Now go back and look at that other picture and wonder: "Where was all that stuff?"


  1. It kind of reminds me of all the papers Paul had crammed in his desk in first gradetime when we went for a teacher conference...I vote nature. (I'm into democracy today.) Btw I saw Mrs Tudor on Mothers Day and she said hello to both of you.

  2. Ask Millie the story about Ms. Roper dumping Connor's desk...I vote nature
    And when Kira starts singing "American Pie"
    whatever version she can remember or make up- then I will vote nurture.
    Yes, I think Kira is right about wearing shirts at dinner- did you put that in just for me to comment?
    Also, I would like to point out that Eli looks very content doing laundry and not in the cave.

  3. I could swear that I've seen you lean down and nibble on the piano a time or two!

  4. I am a long ago friend of Jay's. My mother was asking me about him; a google search led me to your blog--beautiful family! This post made me laugh. In middle school, Jay would run to my house without a shirt on. My mother would always tell him, " at our house, we wear shirts at the dinner table.". To which he replied, "of course you do. You're girls!". :-).
    Heather Massey French