The Apple Doesn’t Fall Far From the Tree

 

Merrill - apple

This saying had always confused me. Which tree are we talking about here? The mother’s or the father’s?  Whose tree is it?

Does the mother decide that the child’s scandalous behavior has fallen from the father’s tree, and not her own? Or what does the father think? He “knows” such behavior wasn’t allowed in his family, so the apple must be in closer proximity to his spouse’s tree.

I’m an empty, barren tree myself, I’ve never had children, so I don’t know what parents think when a child misbehaves. I’ve had an in-law inform me about the apple not falling far from the teeth tree before. “Yes Merrill, all my children who’ve had cavities got that from your side of the family.” Which is probably true – I’ve had just about all my teeth filled at one point or another during my life. My dentist drools, and dollar signs pop up on his eyeballs every time I walk into his office – I’m serious.

When a child does well scholastically or achieves success, it seems as though every tree in the orchard wants to take credit. Genetics obviously has a lot to do with our makeup – the whole nature vs nurture question. Doctors are always asking if there is a history of “it” in your family. And of course there are the stereotypes associated with lineages. For example: The Irish temper, the Irish stubbornness … wait a minute … I’m part Irish … can we back off the trite assumptions here for a minute? Please?

Okay, I admit I do have a temper sometimes … and I can be stubborn on occasion … but might be because I’ve had to deal with the English part of me. Maybe my English side thinks it knows everything about everything – it wants to rule the world (the sun never sets on the British Empire – that sort of thing), and the Irish part of me just wants its freedom. And the Danish part of me doesn’t care – it just wants everybody to get along. The Danish part of me is easygoing and smiles a lot.

But …

The Danes are descendants of the Vikings, who pretty much had their way with the British Isles over a thousand years ago. There was pillaging a-plenty back in those days.

So who knows which apples belong to which trees? Me? I’m happy over here on my side of the orchard, where I still have all my own teeth.

 

From A Memoir of Most of It

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