Personality is a pretty interesting concept. The things about ourselves that make us who we are. Our character. Our values. Our “innermost self”. Our souls. Byproducts of our environment? Divinely inspired traits and morality? It would seem that asking anyone to wrestle with those concepts, to wrestle with the very idea of who they truly are, would be a daunting task. At least it always seemed that way to me. “To thine own self be true?” Well, that’s all well and good, but who the hell am I?
Jack is at the point where more of his second year of life is behind him than in front of him. It brings me great joy to be witnessing the day to day molding of his personality. Now, we may be far from the heady concept of his “innermost self”, as Jack is still blessed with the gift of being ignorant of the world and the bliss that comes from truly living moment to moment. Regardless, there are certain things I can see in Jack as his little sense of being is started to peak out. Like his physical traits, some of his more pronounced character traits seem to be a mixture of both me and my wife. His self-conditioning seems to gravitate him immediately towards picking up a book and that is not from the Ricciardella side of the tree. He seems hungry for knowledge at times. A hunger that comes with the spirit of a seeker. Some one that always wants to learn more. I feel blessed to have him able to experience life this way thus far.
Now, with that, Jack is also a little bit lazy. This is where I’d raise my hand in the air taking responsibility for the genetic handywork, if that is the case. That’s okay. Like I had to learn, he will learn that results don’t come with out work. I’m confident it will be a glorious ride for Jack, as he’s got a nice little advantage in his tool belt: the kid’s got one hell of a sense of humor. I mean, even at 2, he just knows what’s funny. It’s subtle, but he’s onto it early. Look at his smile in this picture and tell me he is not KNOWINGLY making fun of his tired dad:
I realize that probably every parent thinks their child is “funny”. However there is a distinct difference between being funny and understanding what makes things funny. Not everyone gets it. This is not a judgement, and people are free to enjoy whatever they like. I can see in Jack the simple beginnings of a person who, like his father, knows not only HOW to be funny but gets why it is funny.
He’s a big ham. He likes to be the center of attention and he likes to make people laugh. Once I realized that when I opened my mouth people thought I was funny, that was the beginning of my being able to get out of my hermit crab like shell. Suddenly, I was well-received even by the opposite gender. Now, hopefully this is a ways off for my two year old son and, likely, any female attention will be taken down a few notches when they see how ferociously he eats french fries (yeah, he got that from me too). I exploited my sense of humor as a teenager and into young adulthood. I realized that with humor could come charm and with charm could come manipulation. I forsake one of the first lessons I was taught, not by my parents but by Peter Parker’s fictional Uncle Ben: “With great power comes great responsibility.” As with the other things that I’ve learned from my own upbringing, this is a lesson that Jack will be taught to the best of my ability.
At the risk of sounding like I’ve got this whole thing figured out, I’d like to pepper this with the notion that I have no idea what I’m talking about. That is, I truly believe that Jack’s character will be a mish-mash of ideals and concepts from various points of input. As I can best describe it right now, I think that my own value system was instilled by a universal force (God, Time, the Universe, etc) and further shaped by my parents, society, etc. I am the ultimate sum of my experiences with a few things that are set so hard into stone they cannot be completely re-written. It’s just what I believe. Your mileage may vary.
“To thine own self be true.”
Jack is Jack. It’s that simple and it always will be. He likes cars. He loves firetrucks. He’d rather go to Disneyland, but the park is his next choice down the list. He can eat an entire bucket of popcorn. Cookies are his favorite food, with broccoli a close second. He’ll always stop to say “Hello” to a squirrel. He makes me laugh. That’s Jack. Who am I? It took me a while to come to any understanding of who I was. For a long time in my life I was seeking this glorious happiness that must come hand in hand with financial success and fame. I don’t do that so much these days. It wasn’t until I started truly taking care of Jack that I was able to abandon these old ideas of what success was. What happiness was. I’m honestly happier now that I’ve ever been in my life and I’m not rich and I’m not famous. Kind of seems that I don’t know what’s good for me, huh?
I’m a good father. I’m a good husband. I’m a good friend.
I’m George and I just am. For a little while anyway.