In my freshman honors biology class we are learning about the different stages of sexual and asexual reproduction. We’ve learned everything from meiosis to mitosis, chromosome replication, and everything in between, including genetics.
For me, biology class is normally not my strong suit, but this unit particularly interests me; I find that it’s pretty cool to know where I came from, and how genetics played its role in my creation. It’s one of those rare classes where I can directly assess the material’s impact on me. After learning about genetics, I’ve started to think about the different traits I’ve inherited from my parents. I’ve wondered why I don’t look exactly like my mom or my dad, or why I get angry at certain things and why I crave the foods I crave. It’s all up to random chromosome alignment and distribution, but it’s really fun to examine what traits of mine I’ve received from my mother or my father, good and, yes, bad.
Superficially, I look most like my mom: I have long dark hair and I am pretty petite. When I was little, she used to joke with me and ask why I was so tiny. My reply was usually something like “Well mom, I am only seven years old, what’s your excuse?” (because at her full grown adult age, she is really pretty short). Soon, however, my age was no longer an excuse for my petite stature and I daily blame my mother’s side of the family for my height.
Aside from looks though, I still am a lot like my mother. We both have this incredible passion for learning, especially math in my case, which I think I inherited from her MIT-educated father. I’ve also picked up some of her idiosyncratic quirks. I usually make fun of my mom for wearing socks with music notes or other wacky things on them, playing solitaire until the wee hours, bursting out singing loudly no matter where she is and skipping through the Wegman’s parking lot no matter who might see her. She doesn’t care.
Sometimes I don’t want to admit I’m related to her but I have to say, I do get random cravings for Korean food just like she does, and sometimes I do run through the parking lot like an idiot to get to our car, but only when it’s extremely cold out. Her temperament is extremely wild, especially for such a small person. I hope I don’t have her exact temper, because people would be scared of me and think I was crazy. Just kidding, promise. But you don’t know the half of it.
I think my father is the perfect match for my mom. She’s this little Asian spitfire who could outwit anyone, and he’s this mellow Pennsylvanian Dutch gentlemen, not to mention that my dad is six foot two, exactly one foot taller than my mom. From far away, I look nothing like my dad, you probably couldn’t even tell we were related, much less father and daughter. But the genetics lined up interestingly with me and my dad.
Up-close is a whole other story. I have his round European eyes. The color is not the same at all, his are bright blue and mine are chocolate brown, but the shape is.
I also received his double-eyelid, which in scientific terms is called an epicanthic fold. My mom told me that when she lived in China years ago, it was quite the fashion for Chinese women to have the surgery done in order to obtain the coveted European double-eyelid because it was considered beautiful. The extra fold obviously is a dominant characteristic, according to what I’m learning in biology. I also find it fascinating that while my parents could not geneticially produce a blue-eyed child, I could.
In terms of personality, my father and I share an intense passion and drive for everything we do. When we work out, we are both very intense, and even when we play golf together, we are always competing down to the 18th hole. His overall attitude is nice and relaxed even when my mom is on a rampage and the dog is bouncing around. He brings balance to our hectic lives with his laid-back approach.
It is really interesting how the chromosomes lined up to create a unique person and characteristics were distributed to create me, unique Molly Brossman. I mean, my dad has 23 chromosomes, and my mom has 23 chromosomes, and yet I formed a completely random combination of them. Superficially, many of my traits are obvious as to how I inherited them. My mom has black hair and my dad has blonde hair: I have brown hair. My mom has dark brown eyes, my dad has blue eyes: I have brown eyes.
But when I see myself through actions and words, random glints of both of their personalities shine through, like my mom’s idiosyncrasies and my dad’s mellow attitude. I don’t really understand how I received some and not others. I guess with all the possible combinations of chromosomes, I am who I am and there really wasn’t any control over that. It interests me to find an explanation as to why I act the way I do sometimes. I wish all of honors biology was this interesting.