The trouble with cloning
As I write this column, my husband and daughter are toiling over an 1,100-piece LEGO set. They are assembling a colorful Ferris wheel, the last piece in a massive amusement park they have built over the last 24 hours. It has a working rollercoaster, a ticket booth with working turnstile and more.
You can almost hear the screams of delight from the LEGO people. Almost. In truth they ride with their expressions fixed and wigs comically undisturbed.
There is no doubt a project like that takes the patience of a saint. Roughly every 30 minutes I hear a tiny piece of plastic drop to the floor, followed by the dragging of chairs across the old spruce floor. And then it begins.
“Oh, come on, man.”
“It’s over there, next to your foot!”
“No, that’s a crumb. I think it’s between the floorboards.”
“Hand me the flashlight.”
“Ahh, there it is!”
They reposition themselves at the table, and then another drops to the floor. Laughter ensues.
LEGOs are not for me. I tried to join in their fun on Christmas Day, but I didn’t last 10 minutes. I was baffled by the schematics and felt despair when I looked at the overwhelming number of itty-bitty pieces still to be assembled.
“So, this is fun for you?” I finally asked. They both looked at me like I had three heads.
There is no doubt Elizabeth inherited her patience and calm from Tim. They also enjoy doing “Cosmic Kids Yoga” together, and many a night I have watched the two of them stretch and smile serenely. I don’t get it.
One night, when Tim was working late, she got me to try it. The floor hurt my knees, the instructor’s voice irritated me, and instead of embracing the peaceful moment with my daughter, my mind raced with all the things I should be doing.
No namaste for me.
So where do I fit into the puzzle of who my daughter is? Am I in there anywhere?
I got a glimpse of it over Christmas when I bought her a piece of exercise equipment called a Bongo board. It is a balance board, sort of like a skateboard, that is mounted on a rolling barrel.
When I was a child, our family had one, and I was obsessed with it. I’d hop on that board, and with my feet shoulder-width apart, I’d roll back and forth, keeping it balanced on the barrel, for what seemed like hours. The memory of the old toy came to me one day, so I typed a description into my iPad. A modern version of the board was on its way to our home in a matter of minutes.
My daughter wasn’t home when the box arrived, so my husband and I gave the board a try. It was just as awesome as I remembered. He spotted me in case I fell, but I have to admit it was like riding a bicycle. I was back, baby!
Then it was Tim’s turn to try it out, so he did. Somehow he didn’t seem to share my love of the balance board. Maybe the stories of my youth had built it up to a level of awesomeness it never could live up to, but he seemed unimpressed. Would Lizzy like it?
The moment of truth came Christmas morning when she unwrapped the board. She loved it. My daughter jumped right on, and got the hang of it right away. It sits on a rug and she can’t walk into the room without giving it a whirl. I see myself in her excited face when she balances, then rides it all the way in one direction, then shifts her weight and heads the other way. I knew I was in there somewhere.
If there remained any doubt she’s my daughter through and through, a tiny Christmas angel came to teach me the trouble with cloning. The delicate cherub is an ornament that has hung on our tree for eight years. When my daughter was born I started a tradition of buying her an ornament each year.
The idea was that when she leaves us, she will take her ornaments and the memories with her.
Well, I realized early on that these special ornaments were bought with such love and adoration that I’d never be able to let them all go when Lizzy left the house. Not only am I going to kiss my only child goodbye, but she’s taking all of the ornaments with her? I don’t think so.
So I made a new plan to buy her two different ornaments each year. She could take one, and I’d get to keep the other.
Perfect, right? No, not perfect. Problem is, she wants the angel. And so do I. I discovered this when we were decorating the tree this year and I unboxed the precious little cherub, her golden star wand extended magically toward the tree.
“Here you go, Lizzy,” I said, trying to sound casual. “Remember her?”
Secretly I also was thinking, “Yeah, remember the ornament I bought when you were 2 which will never, ever leave this house because it now is my all-time favorite?!”
She reached for the angel and her eyes lit up immediately.
“Ohhh, yes!” she enthused. “Of all the ornaments we have, this is my favorite.”
Bing Crosby still crooned in the background, but for me, the needle had just come off the record.
“What?” I said. “We have hundreds of ornaments, that can’t be your favorite.”
It was too late. My 10-year-old was cradling the beloved cherub in the palm of her hands and rocking it, her face nuzzling its head.
“I love her,” Lizzy cooed. “I just love her so much. I’m going to put her in a special place.”
She lovingly hung the heavenly ornament on a limb right in the front, then gently pushed a twinkling Christmas light through it. It looked like her wand had lit the candle the angel was perched upon. Clearly my daughter had watched me do this for many Christmases and knew exactly how it worked.
“I’m going to have this on my tree someday,” Lizzy said dreamily, admiring the angel.
“Oh, but that’s Mommy’s ornament,” I said, sounding petty.
She looked at the bottom of the decoration.
“But it says 2008,” she argued. “You bought this for me when I was a baby.”
Apparently she also inherited my reporter’s instincts. Curse you, DNA!
Houston, we have a problem.
So for the next few days, I pondered Angelgate, and wondered how it all would end. Then it hit me: just like the Bongo board, I probably could find another angel somewhere in this world via the wonders of technology. I turned to the Internet and in 10 minutes a spare was on its way to me, with free shipping.
About a week later, I was putting wrapped gifts under the tree when my daughter asked if she could open one. Looking at the little bag containing the angel, I smiled slyly and passed it to her. My thought was she could have the replacement, and I would keep the original, and everyone would be happy.
She opened the box and grinned.
“Yay! Now we both have one!” she said happily.
Lizzy hung the angel on the tree just above its twin, then looked at me and smiled.
“Mom-mmmmmy...” she said, her tone accusatory as she wagged her finger. “I get to keep the old one.”
And the beat goes on.