Wednesday, August 24, 2005

"So, who does she look like?"

This has to be the second most annoying question (right after "Are you getting any sleep?" The answer to which is, "Yeah, I'm sleeping like a baby -- I wake up screaming every two hours.) But the "who does she look like" question is annoying for a very different reason: I have no idea how to answer it. Not only do I not know the answer, but I feel like I should. Lord knows, everyone else has an opinion on it.

"Oh, she has your chin!"

"She has her mother's eyes."

"The top half of the face is mommy, and lower half is daddy."

I'm not Frederick Frankenstein, and the girl's name isn't Abbie Normal, so comments like that last one always strike me as a little odd. Reaching back to my high-school biology classes, I always thought of baby-making as a blending of the two parents rather than a patchwork quilt of one feature then another. Sure, certain traits and characteristics can and will emerge and be favored. But right now? I mean, have you seen a baby? A young baby? When they come out, they are a puffy, wrinkly, ill-defined mass of flesh. To wit:

Cute as all get out, but let's be honest. If I wasn't there at the scene of the crime, I never could have picked her out of a line up. And these people who so clearly see features of us in Arrena, I bet they couldn't do it either. You know, I wish I had an extra baby lying around that I could use to play tricks on these people who are just so convinced they see us in her.

Well-meaning visitor: Oh, yeah, that extra jowel she has is you. No doubt about it.
Me: Sucker! This ain't even my baby! I took this one from the hospital room next to ours.
Well-meaning visitor: You did what?

And then the cops are called.

Maybe that's not a good idea.

Thing is, I prefer to see our daughter as her own distinct person. A part of us, no doubt, but someone completely new and different. It's still a tad early, but I think it will help in building her self-esteem and confidence to instill in her this belief as well, rather than pointing out how much she's like me or her mother. It's fine to be "Daddy's little girl" as long as she is no "chip off the ol' block." So, when people ask me who she looks like, the only answer I can think of is, "She looks like Arrena." Seems like the only right answer.

Part of the reason we gave her the names Arrena and Ruth (the names of two of her great-grandmothers) is so that she would know from the beginning that she has a lot of family history behind her. That she is the new link joining two long and strong family chains, and that it was the coming together of these two families that created her. But what these families have created has never existed before. It is something entirely new, and that newness, that freshness, is our gift - and God's gift - to her.

A blank slate.

And, well, if I did give you my chin, then I'm sorry, Arrena. Look on the bright side, Bruce Campbell did pretty good with his.


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