A big part of the ongoing “nature vs. nurture” debate involves examining the emergence of desirable and undesirable characteristics and whether or not these traits are inborn or the result of conditioning. It’s the sort of debate that argues whether someone like Adolf Hitler might’ve been an okay guy if he had just been hugged more as a kid. While I am far from an expert in this, I often keep it in mind as I interact with Miles and watch him grow and develop his personality, preferences, and social tendencies.
I’m currently leaning Team Nature.
Like most modern, well-adjusted men, I hug my kid a lot. I kiss him when I get home from work and before bed each night. And if he wants a hug or kiss at some other random time of the day, well he’ll get it then, too. I speak to him on his terms, trying to make him feel included in household conversations. I respond enthusiastically to stories he tells me regardless of whether or not I have damn clue what he’s talking about. I have times where I show my character flaws around him, but I try to limit those and feel ashamed when he sees me at something other than my best. Because that’s truly what I want to give him. My best.
And yet, despite all of this, Miles will come barreling over to me declaring, “You gonna get a boo-boo, daddy!”
“A boo-boo? From what?” I reply.
“From MILES!” he says, raising his fist. “I’m a bad guy! HA, HA, HAAAA!” The laugh is suitably over-the-top and maniacal.
Is this inclination towards antisocial behavior something Miles has picked up from somewhere? If it is, I can’t figure out where it came from. I can only assume that this darkness is inherent and is slowly emerging as he gets older. I mean, it certainly explains the delight he exhibits when I clean up food that he’s — deliberately — dumped out on the floor.
Maybe I need to hug him more.