Thursday, November 01, 2007

Evolution of a Parent

The "kid" who is my cube mate and technically, employee, for the last eight years (hey, he's put up with me longer than my husband and all day in close proximity!) is a wealth of unusual conversation. On any given day we talk everything from quantum physics to foot fungus. Sometimes we even talk about work. We're both "active mind" types and obsessive over certain subjects. His current obsession is evolution. With a bit of biology in my past, I'm always up for pondering nature's power to change things in response to the environment.

I do find bits of it that are confusing. For example, the whole neophobic, fear of new (food), tendency in kids. It's great in theory; child toddles out of cave, sees toxic berries on bush and will not eat them because of an innate fear, lives to pass on neophobic gene.

Except that's not how it goes. It goes more like this; child runs across kitchen floor, eats every stray bit of dirt, lint, cat hair, plastic bit, dust bunny and unidentifiable substance once possibly food. Then goes to table and won't eat carrots. By all logic here, we should be extinct.

This leads me to my second Great Evolutionary Theory. Long, long ago when the world was sparsely populated, parents lived in harmony with their children. As time passed, and the world became crowded, nature selected again to help us balance the system and discourage large families. This current period is known as the Dawn of the Terrible Two Gene. I haven't applied yet, but I am sure I could get a grant to study this.

By far the most frightening observation on evolution, Terrible Two's aside, is that my child is remarkably unchanged in personality since day one. She just communicates a lot more and better these days. A lot more. No, she is not changing so much as she is growing up. I'm the one being evolved. Permanently, irrevocably, and perhaps, for the best.

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