Family Psychology

May 10, 2005 - 12:00am -- swingbug

My birthday was Saturday. 27. At the end of the day you're another day older, and all that jazz. There were family festivities on Sunday in dual celebration. While toasting to Mother's Day around the family dinner table, my father noted that there weren't enough mothers around the dinner table. My sister and I cut each other a look across the table and shared a moment.

Nothing can bring two sisters together like the adversity of parents who wish to be grandparents.

The complexities (and simplicities) of family interactions continue to astound me as I grow older. It's a relationship that defies description, really. Do you remember those awful psych experiments they did on little monkeys in the 70s, trying to prove that the bond between mother and child was simply born out of the necessity of one entity requiring nutrients from the other? A team of shrinks took a little monkey and kept it in a cage with two "moms" made out of hardware store parts in roughly the size and dimensions of an adult female. One was made of very inhospitable looking wire and dispensed milk. The other dispensed nothing but was covered in soft terry cloth. The poor little confused monkey developed an affection for "terry cloth mom." The scientists, who clearly hadn't been hugged enough as a children, were astounded.


Still, it's fun to think about where our little family rituals come from on an evolutionary level. As my sister walked into the house on Sunday and Mom and I met her at the door with a hug, "Good to see you" morphed very quickly into "Good to see your sweater." After an initial hug and hello we were quickly complimenting each other's wardrobe. "Oh you look cute." "What a great sweater, Kel. Where did you get that?" It made me smile. Is this some sort of archaic grooming ritual? It rather reminds me of the way my cats greet each other. Maybe we should just sniff each other in the butt and get it over with.

There is comfort in the way your family knows you (though sometimes it's a little disturbing). I see my sister for only a few hours a month, really. When you think of how many hours you spend with which people throughout everyday life, that's really not that much. But sometimes she can call me on what I'm thinking or doing in ways that my friends who see me everyday never could. Maybe it comes from years of fighting over space in the back seat of the car on road trips or sharing nachos on the beach on summer thursday or grossing each other out at the dinner table. Maybe it's something more elemental than that. It's there, regardless. No matter how you grow and change, that weird little niche you carved out for yourself as a child will always fit you.

At the end of the family gathering as we were donning our gear and preparing to venture out into the storm, I turned to Shawn and said, "So Poppy gave me some birthday money. I was thinking of buying a season of Star Trek: Deep Space Nine." My sister cried out, "Oh my god that's so geeky!"

I beamed at my ability to provoke my sister and Shawn and I went home to discuss the merits of season 4 versus season 6.

Related Topics: