So we've all heard the debates about nature vs. nurture and we all have our own opinions about them. Some people believe that everything is totally ingrained and nothing we do on the nurturing side can change nature's ingrained tendencies. Some people believe that nothing is written in stone and nurturing is absolutely 100% responsible for the way people turn out in life. Clearly, most of the time, the truth lies somewhere in the middle. But I am learning that there are definitely some things that are honestly just programmed into our code from the very beginning.
Take my Abby, for example. She's my little music snob. She hasn't had time to have had this ingrained through the nurturing process. But she comes by it honestly. I was a flutist for 15 years and also played oboe for 8 years. I majored in music in college until I had an injury in my junior year that kept me from finishing my last several performance credits for the degree (I do have a minor in music, but fat lot of good that does me). I studied under some of the best musicians in the world and had some fantastic opportunities to tour with orchestras in the US and Europe. I always expected music to be an integral part of my life and I'm shocked to discover that it's not nearly as much in the forefront of my daily life as I expected it to be.
Back to Abby - that was all just background.
A couple weeks ago, as the babies were finishing up dinner, I put on Tchaikovsky's Fourth Symphony. If you know Tchaikovsky at all, you know that he wrote a lot of ballet, and much of what he wrote that ISN'T ballet still lends itself to ballet. Now, I am clearly no ballerina. But my kids were in their high chairs looking amused, and Tchaikovsky was floating out of the CD player and there was this big, wide open space in the living room/dining room, so I started pirouetting around and doing really bad arabesques. Sam and Ellie clapped and smiled, but Abby - oh Abby was cracking up. I mean, seriously, she was totally CRACKING UP. She could not stop giggling and laughing and reaching out toward me. She was completely, totally CRACKING UP. It's so funny, because she's normally so serious, so watching her crack up was so amusing to me.
I didn't think much of it, because I figured that she was just laughing at her crazy mama making a fool out of herself in the living room, right? The next day, the babies were playing with toys on the living room floor, and I put the same CD back in and Abby immediately smiled and looked up at me. I started pirouetting around again, and she started CRACKING UP! The fun didn't last long, though, because I was getting ready to change their diapers and put them down for a nap. Seth wandered upstairs and noticed the music on and said, "Oh no! Did I miss pirouettes AGAIN?" No way am I ever going to let anyone else ever see me doing pirouettes, not even my husband. He'd probably fall over laughing. So I scooped Abby up into my arms and started spinning around with her with the music still on. Once again, she started cracking up, laughing hysterically. When I stopped spinning she looked around at the world like it was a new and fascinating place.
Still, I didn't think much of it, because what kid WOULDN'T love to be scooped up into mommy's arms and spun around for some fun?
Later in the week, my mom was over and I wanted to show her how Abby cracks up when you spin her around, so I scooped her up and spun her around. She smiled. And she let out one tiny chuckle. But no cracking up. I was completely perplexed. I tried again. Still, nothing. Just a smile. No cracking up. How could this be? How could my daughter be sitting there in my arms purposely making a liar out of me?
And then I realized how quiet it was in the house. Could that be the problem? Could my daughter be so discerning that she wanted the music on? Nah. Couldn't be. But, just in case, I turned Tchaikovsky back on, and sure enough, Abby grinned immediately, and as soon as I started spinning her around, she CRACKED UP.
Interestingly, Abby does not respond nearly so strongly to Mozart, Brahms, Moussorgsky, Beethoven, Bach, Prokofiev or Rachmaninoff. But Ellie totally digs Rachmaninoff - more than anything else. Isn't it neat that they both have a favorite? Ellie gets up and dances for Rachmaninoff. Sam dances for all of it. He's just a dancing fool.
I love it.