I am my father, according to my mother. She has a habit of telling me that I’m just like him, in a tongue-in-cheek kind of way. A teasing look creeps across her face; her eyes widen, lips purse. Usually, I’ve just done something she doesn’t approve of—something my dad would have done—and now she’s found a way to elicit a reaction from me. It’s an old technique of hers, tried and true.
I should clarify that she’s not lambasting my dad by any means, if it sounds this way. I think she just sees a lot of my father in me, that’s all.
I won’t tell her (and since she’d rather read Voice of Asia than this blog, she’ll never find out), but I look forward to these little revelations now. They are the remnants of a past life, mementos that have been packed away in a shoebox that now sits in the corner of a closet we don’t open enough. But when we do, we find forgotten gems—like a beloved old cassette, its magnetic tape wearing the wrinkles of a few too many plays.
When my mom uses this retort, I know I’m about to discover something about my dad that time, the usual suspect, has forced me to forget. I’ve annoyed my mom by doing something bad, subjectively speaking. She’s going to punish me with a reward in the form of a history lesson.
It’s 4:00 a.m., why I’m still awake? I’m a night owl, just like my dad. He never wanted to go to sleep, never did when he had the chance, but then he’d whine about being sleep deprived, just like I do now. When I complain of starvation because I’ve been too lazy to walk to the kitchen and prepare a meal, I’m just like my dad. He never set foot in the kitchen willingly, his preferences in food determined by whatever required the least effort. And again, when I’ve been home for hours but I’m ruining the brand-new and not-inexpensive outfit I just bought by wearing it still, I’m just like my dad.
Seemingly, I’ve adopted all these habits I never knew he had. But I have news for my mom. It took an intermittent four-year separation for me to realize that I’m just like her. Maybe the brief intermissions between quarters at school and summer plans weren’t enough to realize this, but it’s become impossible to ignore now.
I’m klutzy, just like my mom. When she drops a bottle of nail polish on the carpet, my inability to get through a meal without spilling something on a freshly laundered blouse is explained. Someone finds a way to irk me, and I launch into a no-holds-barred tirade, just like she does. The words spill forth, and I find myself reiterating and regurgitating. (See what I did there?) And I’m just like my mom when I ask an endless series of seemingly pointless questions, often to the exasperation of others. I’ve been on the receiving end of this now, and I apologize to those who have been my victims. (Nonetheless, as a creature of habit, I probably won’t stop.)
Arguably, these traits aren’t encoded in my DNA. Some might argue that this is mere coincidence, or explain it away by referencing the nature versus nurture argument. I won’t dispute this. But whatever it is, I’m thankful that I harbor these characteristics of my parents, even the perceived weaknesses. They are the keys to a treasure trove of delightful memories.
In the meantime, I’ll keep probing in search of the next habit that will vex my mom, with the hope that she has a few more revelations up her sleeve.