We are all, to some degree, products of the environment we were raised in. I’m honestly not sure how much other parents think about this, but nothing has made me more acutely aware of this than fatherhood, where I observe Miles’s assimilation of environmental characteristics in real time.
Of course, these traits range from desired to undesired to just…weird. In a post long ago I wrote about my chronic acid reflux, something that, because I’ve dealt with it for so long, Miles has also been observing for his whole life. Now, acid reflux is a condition of course, and not something Miles can voluntarily replicate. But the observable piece of it — the persistent clearing of my throat — is something he has latched onto.
Regularly, Miles will almost comically clear his throat. Out of the dead silence, we might suddenly hear a “HHHHUUUUUGGGGGHHHHHH.” “Hey buddy,” I’ll tell him. “You don’t have to do that. I have to do it. I have a condition. But you? You don’t have to do that.” Attempting to explain myself has made no difference.
After over a year, I’m not sure when this habit will ever be broken. It’s the tic that once compelled his friend Audrey, during a sleepover, to ask her dad, “Is he going to do that all night?”
“All night?” Try “all day, every day for a long, long time.” Maybe he’ll grow out of this phase at some point, but if it all depends on me ending the behavior, I think it might become a defining characteristic, even if Miles never actually develops the underlying problem (and I hope he doesn’t, because it SUCKS).