You have your dad’s nose, or your mom’s eyes, or your uncle’s chin. You have your grandmother’s stubbornness or your grandfather’s love for the outdoors.
As you grow up, it seems paramount to the adults around you to pinpoint who exactly gave you which trait. I am not so sure that’s a very good idea.
For instance, my Eldest looks very much like my DH and has DH’s mild temperament and kind nature (or maybe it’s my dad’s laid-back attitude? ), but has the same sense of humor and affinity for idiotic puns as me.
My middle son is the spitting image of my sister and mother (who look very much like each other); he looks more like my sister than he does like me. He also has a lot of my sister’s personality traits. Or maybe they are my brother-in-law’s (DH’s brother’s) traits?
While I am OK with saying who got whose nose, because you have very little control over the shape of your nose (barring injury or surgery, of course), I am not so sure about any personality traits. Because let’s face it, that’s bullshit. It’s harmful and it pigeonholes the kids.
I have been thinking recently about all the information I received growing up. I am considered a daddy’s girl: I have a lot of my father’s characteristics, which really did not help my relationship with my mother because she spent a lot of time not liking him very much, and “You’re just like your father” was often used as an insult from mother to me. My dad remains one of the most intelligent people I have ever met. I got my dad’s brains, sort of, his ability to do advanced math and physics, but also I got his skills for drawing and a much milder version of his ability to write. I also got his inability to sing and got his mother’s looks, which are much inferior to my mother’s family’s looks (that was communicated loudly and clearly). My father, however, was never particularly ambitious. So I must have gotten my ambition from my mother, who, granted, is a giant pain in the butt. You think I am intense? My mother is a freakin’ typhoon.
Anyway, at some point I realized that what this insistence has left me with is feeling that I have no good traits that are mine, just largely faint copies of my father’s; he, of course, was the original. I know I am smart, but not as smart as dad (he was one of the early programmers in COBOL in the 70’s); I can sort of write, but not as well as dad, who is a published writer in our native language; I can sort of draw, but not as well as dad, who I think had some cartoons published at some point in some satirical magazine. I think the only trait that I believe is mine is courage in the face of new experiences, because neither my mother nor my father ever had the guts to emigrate when they could, as neither was able to cut the cord with extended family.
Nearly every other trait my father had first, and had it better.
Of course, this is all crap. I am objectively more successful than him in every way, professionally, personally, financially. But it is very hard to internalize that my personality traits are my own, not just some genetic hand-me-downs, in bulk, from their one true owner.
Maybe my middle boy has my sister’s nose, but he does NOT have her personality. His personality is his own.