In case you haven’t figured it out by psychologically analyzing my writing style or word choices or stories I’ve told, I am the youngest child. In many many ways, this is the best thing that has happened to me and I love it. So much so that I legitimately used to have nightmares when I was younger that my mom was pregnant and I would no longer be the youngest. But in some ways it is a curse.
I call it The Curse of All The Funny Parts.
The idea is basically that there are certain things my parents ran out of by the time they got to me. Cami got all the crafty sewing talents. John got all of Dad’s math skills. Cami got long legs and John got a stupid metabolism (seriously, all that kid eats is candy and he is still skinny! How is that fair?) By the time they got to me, all that was left were all the funny parts. I have the flattest feet known to man, I can’t curl my tongue, I have a man nose, my veins are teeny tiny and have made phlebotomists cry before. The list goes on.
Usually when I am referring to all the funny parts, it is physical attributes or skill sets. But occasionally, my parents will demonstrate little personality quirks, quirks that I have that I didn’t realize might come from them as well. Today, there were two instances of funny personality parts that my parents exhibited that reminded me that I’m definitely not adopted.
The first was a classic case of oppositional defiance on the part of Dad (and Mom). So every month when we get our electricity bill, it will tell us how we rate in comparison to our neighbors. One of our neighbors, after receiving his bill, took to Facebook to voice his confusion. Despite living alone and being gone most of the day, he is only rated as “good” compared to his neighbors, not great. He is aiming for great.
Mom’s response to his status was as follows, “Well we get number 99 out of 100, 100 being the worst. John’s goal is to be 100.” Now I don’t know if there really are only 100 of us here in the neighborhood, but that is the scale that they use. And to be fair, there are 4 of us living here, all with various electronics that we need to use on a daily basis for work and life. Also, it’s not that we don’t care about the environment and conserving energy, because we really do. But the first time we got one of these lovely letters about our placement on the scale (which was only 98 at the time) we were all a little opposed to what we perceived as their efforts to use guilt to get us to conserve energy.
I have known for a long time that guilt is not a good motivator for me. If you try and make me feel bad about doing something in order to get me to stop, I will just keep right on doing it. Case in point, once when I was seven I accidentally squished the bread on the way home from the grocery store. In retrospect, it was probably because my arms were so short and I was trying to carry as many bags as I could wrap them around. We used the brown paper bags at the time so you couldn’t see what was in them and I probably just hugged as many to my body as I could to cut down on trips to and from the car. Mom was a bit disappointed but forgave me. Then it happened again, also accidentally. She was a bit more impatient but John and Cami were ruthless in their teasing and their guilt tripping. It was a thing after that, a “don’t let Sunnie carry the bread, she will squish it” thing. So you know what I did? I started squishing the bread on purpose. Not every time we went shopping but whenever I happened to be the one carrying the bag with the bread in it, the bread would be squished. I never squished it so much that it was inedible, it would only be like one corner of the loaf.
What I didn’t know, or at least didn’t realize when I was younger, is that my Dad also has this stubborn streak. Because when we got that letter, his first response was “well, let’s see what it takes for us to make it to 100!” The fact that we’ve never made it to 100 (even though we haven’t changed any of our behavior to really try and reach it) leads me to believe that you can never actually reach 100 and it is just some arbitrary scale that the power company made up. But in a way, I am grateful for it. Because now I know that my bread-squishing funny part came from Dad.
This evening as Mom and I were running last minute errands (not the best thing to do on Thanksgiving eve) she had a song stuck in her head. A song she only knew one line of. It was “Do You Want To Build A Snowman” from Frozen. (I know, I know, how is it possible she only knows one line of that song? Because my family kind of boycotted that movie for…reasons).
The fact that she only knew one line of the song didn’t stop her from singing that one line over and over and over as we walked through the stores. She sang at different volumes and in different voices. Sometimes she would make up other words for the rest of the song. Or she would just sing different words to the tune of the parts of the song she knows (like “Sunnie, Sunnie, Sunnie, Sunnie” instead of “Do you want to build a Snowman” because it has the same number of syllabus). We got a few funny looks but that didn’t stop her from singing and me from singing with her (I know a few more words to the song than she does).
As I watched her picking out onions while she sang, I thought to myself, “yup, she is definitely my mom.” Because I have been that person that sings the same line from a song over and over and over. Out loud. In the grocery store. Or on campus. Or in a city I’ve never been in before. Or in the car (especially in the car). Or makes up words to a song or deliberately changes the words.
So yes, I do have all the funny parts. The sing-off-key-in-public parts and the don’t-get-that-close-to-the-edge parts and the flat feet parts and the “Superman curl” cowlick. There are some parts that are undeniably me (the negative sense of direction and the toe that pops sideways out of its joint) but at the end of the day, I guess I am grateful for the parts of me that are also my parents, no matter how funny they both are.