Mimicking

When we chose to adopt we knew we’d never see any of our physical attributes in our child.  Our child would never have Mr. MPB’s nose, my eyes, etc.  There was a time when I grieved these things and felt sorrow for the fact that we would never have that.

Instead, now I listen to people who know us (and know he is adopted) and complete strangers (who do not know he is adopted – I don’t start every conversation with strangers with, my son is adopted) comment on how much he looks like Mr. MPB and even the odd time me.  I almost resent it, and I’m not really sure why.  I think maybe it’s partly because I’m over sensitive, in fact I know I can be.  But, I also think it’s because I know that he looks like his birth mother – I can see his birth mother’s chin in his chin.  And, I think it’s great for him to grow up knowing where some of his physical features come from.  And, I guess I also think that’s his birth mother’s honour and not mine (and I don’t mean this in a bad poor me kind of way, I truly think it’s great that I can see his birth mother in his features), so it seems weird to have people try to connect my physical features to his features.

But, regardless of what our child looks like, what I didn’t really think about is that our child is bound to pick up on our mannerisms because children learn through mimicking.  Already Baby MPB is mimicking his Daddy:

  • Baby MPB already rests with one arm on his bottle and the other raised slightly behind his head with his hands in his hair.  This is just how Mr. MPB often sits on the couch when reading – one arm holding his book and the other raised slightly with his hand behind his head.
  • Baby MPB also smirks like Mr. MPB does.  In fact, this one is actually pretty funny and our friends have even noticed it.  You see, Mr. MPB’s smirk really only occurs when he knows he’s right and he’s just patiently listening to the other person explain their perspective.  So, it’s not an all the time facial expression, so I find it fascinating that our child is already be picking up on this already.  And, on more then one occasion I’ve told Baby MPB to wipe that smirk off his face before it gets stuck there forever.  Well he doesn’t understand this statement now, I think as a teenager it will drive him crazy (and I’m okay with that).

I’m not sure why I didn’t expect our child to pick up on our mannerisms – I honestly should have.  I’m almost embarrassed to say that one of my degrees is in sociology, so I should have a strong understanding of how socialization occurs and how at the very beginning kids are almost solely socialized by their home environment because it’s all they know.  I guess, I just never expected to see this occurring so vividly and so quickly.  Needless to say, it’s been incredibly interesting to watch it happen.

I guess this gets to nature vs. nurture debate.  I know nature, including genetics, plays a big role in childhood development, and I don’t want to discount that.  But, it’s also clear that nurture matters and how they are raised will influence a child’s outcome in life. And, from my own little, completely unscientific observations, I can see how nurture is impacting our son’s development.  I can see that he mimics what we do.  He is mimicking some of Mr. MPB’s mannerisms.  But like most babies he also mimics simple things like smiling.  We smile, he smiles.  Heck, strangers in the grocery store smile at him and he smiles back (he is a really smiley and happy little guy).  So, of course he is going to pick up on what we do and how we do it.

And, I’ll admit, I think it’s pretty neat to watch.

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24 Comments on “Mimicking

  1. I love the mimicking! Put a smile another big smile on my face this morning.
    Growing up with my adoptive brother it was always weird when people said how much we looked alike. It was a reminder…at the same time…I also remember my brother and I looking at each other and smiling in those moments because well, it was our little secret and almost humorous/an inside joke to us. Our families adoption was never a secret, but sometimes you would meet a nice little old lady who would say something and there just wasn’t the point. And, the truth is…we do look alike!

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  2. It’s that old Nature/Nurture debate. Eden has a lot of my attributes, but there are times when she looks a lot like Amy. She does things that Amy does and I’m sure as she gets older she will pick up more of Amy’s attributes too. Oddly enough, I don’t see the donor in her at all!

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  3. That’s adorable! It’s got to be so awesome to see your husband’s mannerisms reflected in your son. I’m sure he’s got some of yours too, or at least he will in the future! I bet he will have a kind heart just like you, too.

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  4. In the beginning, I would correct people who knew we had used donor eggs when they would tell me E looked liked me. It was a strange sort of defensive reaction. It doesn’t bother me anymore. People look for the familiar even if it might not be there.

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  5. I’ve seen this happen in a lot of different contexts, including two people in a relationship who get asked if they are brother/sister or sisters, because people think they look alike. I’ve read a lot about micro-mimicry, in which we actually pick up incredibly subtle facial muscle movements and expressions, which cause our faces to look alike. So, genetically, while we have different building blocks, we may actually look alike with someone we are close to, because we unintentionally mimic subtle ways of holding our face, speaking, smiling, frowning, etc. I’m sure Baby MPB is already doing this with you two!

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  6. THat is adorable! My step son have been extremely influenced by me and I can see bits of my sense of humor and sarcasm in them all the time! I see a ton of my little habits and mannerism played out through them and I love it! I know I’m not biologically their mom but that hasn’t stopped them from being a lot like me! We have primary custody of the youngest and sole custody of the oldest so they are around me more then anyone else (there father works during the day up until recently I worked at night so I was gone while they slept) it is a wonderful feeling! I just laugh when people tell me my youngest stepson looks like me (we both have brown hair and blue eyes so thats the only similar trait)

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  7. This is kind of what I meant in my comment on your post the other day about him being a good human. It’s fabulous that he’s already picking up your mannerisms!
    On another note… You know my childhood friend I’ve written about, who gave her husband a kidney and had a miscarriage and stuff? Their son looks SOOO much like her hubby. After I commented again on how much they loom alike, she messaged me and said “you know, it’s not his son, we had to use a donor.” I’ve also heard that after years being together/married couples start to look similar. So not sure if it’s a real scientific thing, but maybe that happens, too? Either way, I’m happy that you’re all happy and doing well.

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  8. Maybe you hadn’t thought of it before as you were grieving the lost of the whole features the same thing. Now you can see that actually, it doesn’t have to mean that your child can’t be “just like you”. Mannerisms make up so much of who we are and what people see when they interact with us! I am so pleased you are having this lovely little revelation 🙂

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  9. Apparently the same thing can happen to elderly couples who have been married for decades. Over time they adopt some of the mannerisms of the other.

    I would just embrace it. They probably aren’t looking at specific features but his face completely, which probably does mimic Mr MPB’s way of holding his face or smiling.

    He is just such a little cutie. It will be nice to see him grow and see where he gets his personality from.

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  10. That cracks me up about his smirk! Children really are so much a product of their environment. That has become very evident to us in the changes we see in L the longer she is with us. 🙂

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  11. It happens! We have a bunch of different physical characteristics in our family, but we definitely all have some shared thing that makes us [our surname]. Like even though we all live in different places and have slightly different accents, we also have a family accent. And we have about a million family in jokes. (Mainly based around the youngest pronouncing things wrong as a kid!) And we definitely have family ways of doing things. You and baby will have that too!

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    • I loved reading this! Of course you all share things that make you a family! I have no idea why in all the time we considered adoption not once did I think about mimicking and the subtle us like things that he does.

      Liked by 1 person

  12. It’s so funny that I had almost the opposite realization after adopting. (Though, I should add here that NO ONE was going to mistake our African children for biological ones!) I had always been on the “nurture” side of the debate – that socialization trumps genes 90% of the time. Then we got our daughters and saw immediately how much their characters were pre-determined. At one year old, my younger daughter was “tidying up” her spot at the table – placing the cup in the exact corner of the placemat, adjusting the spoon so that it was exactly parallel to the side of the placemat. She didn’t have that from us. There was something born inside her that wanted things orderly.
    On the other hand, I think of older couples who start to look more and more alike. So gestures and mimicry must be a factor too in our perceptions.

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  13. I love this and I totally understand the surprise…parenting is not a solely intellectual thing, and it’s so cool that as new parents you two are getting the same awe of what your kiddo is doing that reminds you of each other…heck yeah for Nurture!

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  14. Love this! Love that your little guy is picking up mannerisms of you and your husband. It is another way to see yourself in your child.

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