Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Nature vs nurture vs the random factor

My girls are preparing to audition for one of the local annual musicals. While looking for a video to teach (steal, basically) some easy routine, we came across the Cimorelli. They are a family of 6 sisters and 5 brothers. The sisters have their own You tube-assisted presence in the tween world and have gone on to be signed up with some label (or something; music world terminology/jargon eludes me). I am quite taken up with their story--they are home-schooled, and taught classical piano and voice lessons including barbershop quartet by their mother who was a music major in college. And I can't even get past wondering how the heck does she manage to feed a family of 13? What does she drive to get the family from point A to point B? A mini-bus?

But future celebrity-watching apart, I am fascinated with the thought that here is a natural, real-world experiment to add to the discussion about nature vs nurture fractions to outcomes big and small. Here, the Cimorelli sisters all have the same nature (genetics), same nurture (learning environment and opportunities). But then each child also has something unique that separates one sibling from another. The random factor. The X factor. I personally see a/an (admittedly) subjective hierarchy of talent, attractiveness, stage presence, and oomph, if I may, among them. My money is on one child. And then another.

And finally, I want to admit that another level of my fascination lies with the mother. What patience, what dedication, what strategy! What ambition! And I don't mean that last one in a negative way. I have spent enough of my life and energy hoping to earn something special (apart from a pay check), to make something of myself, in return for all the time I invested in working for others, with others. As the first woman to have gone to college and to have earned a university degree in my family, this is as far as I have gotten to understand and express my ambitions for my own life. But I never felt the desire to invest in my own family, teach them, train them, and to trust with all my heart that success in some form would be possible all on my own (with a little help from this new world with new technology). And even when I watch home schooling parents around us, for example, all I conclude is that it would be impossible for me to give my all just to my family. I need my distance from them; my children need their distance from me. I realize that I am prone to thinking, believing that my children need to take their chances learning from others--the others that are presumably more knowledgeable, more powerful, more different than me. But this Cimorelli mother seems to have discarded all such notions, all conditioning of such mindsets. And, devoid of self-doubts (if any), she has managed to come out the other end somewhat triumphantly. Hats off, Ma Cimorelli.

Watch the Cimorelli cover "Price Tag" by Jessie J and B.O.B here.

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