Tabula Rasa, a Latin phrase that translated literally means “erased slate” or blank slate, is an idea used to argue that nurture, not nature, is what creates a person’s thoughts. The theory is that people are born without opinions, habits, personality, emotions, knowledge, etc., and everything that they encounter in their life “writes” on their slate to create who they are. I do not believe in Tabula Rasa.
I have noticed lately that the more I seem to think I have grown and changed, the more I remember that I am becoming exactly as I was as a child. Obviously, the element of maturity changes things, but fundamentally, there are more similarities than I would have thought. So apparently, when I was removed (I say this because I wasn’t actually born, I was removed, and it kind of bugs my mom when I say I wasn’t born), my little brain was stuffed full of the full grown sass you find today. Here are some examples.
1. I DO WHAT I WANT, YO!
I have always done exactly what I want to do. No more, no less. One famous example as a small child was fabulously retold by my aunt Heidi, who was present for the experience. I was probably around 2. I wasn’t wearing a diaper anymore. My mom was getting frustrated and wanted me to do something that I, apparently, didn’t want to do. So I stood up, put my little hands on my hips, and proceeded to pee on demand. She told me to stop, which I did. Then, when she started telling me what to do again and getting mad for peeing, I took a step forward and peed in defiance some more. My two year old self sure showed her who was boss!
My school aged self was pretty opinionated in what I would and wouldn’t do as well. Granted, I was generally well behaved in school. School, I could handle for the most part. However, take me on a field trip I didn’t want to go on? No thank you. I would conveniently be “sick” on days that I didn’t feel like participating. Class field trips were sort of annoying to me. I am pretty sure I only went on half of them. Optional trips, like to see musicals or museums, I was all over, but trips that everyone went on, like to Zions Canyon, not my thing. Same went for classes I didn’t want to participate in. One year I was mysteriously sick most days for the class period after lunch. Obviously, I must have a food allergy, right? At least that is what the school, my teachers, and parents were convinced of. Ya, nope. I hated doing Mighty Math, which were math facts timings that we did every day. They stressed me out and I hated them. So, instead, I would lay in a tub full of pillows that my teacher had in the back of his classroom for sick kids, and just chill. Granted, I don’t pull the “sick” card anymore. I just flat out say that I don’t want to do things. The adult world offers so few sick days, that I save those for when I actually need them.
2. I HATE MORNINGS!
Oddly, as an adult, my stomach has decided that it hates mornings, too. It makes it really hard to get out the door very early, because it decides to throw a fit around 8 AM every day. As a child, you could not get me up. I was quoted to have mumbled at the breakfast table one day, “I wist I wuz a mowning pewson.” (I couldn’t talk very well. I took speech therapy classes until second grade.) I remember asking my mom for some Diet Coke before kindergarten. AM kindergarten was the death of me. Remember, that was the 80’s, so she wasn’t a bad parent for giving her kid soda, and with me, it was sort of a necessity. Left to my own devices, my schedule would be to sleep from 2 AM to 12 Noon, and have the rest of my day fit somewhere between. Unfortunately, the rest of the world doesn’t agree with me.
3. I LOVE CLOTHES AND FASHION
When I was in preschool, I refused to wear overalls because they were “farmer pants,” and I didn’t want to be confused with a farmer. For first grade school shopping, I refused to buy pants. I wanted all dresses, because that is what girls wear. Again, with my rough mornings, I would say at the breakfast table in my little muffled mumble, “Umm… I didn’t wanna weah dis,” after realizing that my mom had dressed me in something I did not approve of. To my dismay, I always realized it a little late, because I had just fully awakened. I’ll still redress mannequins when I go into a store and find a horrendously styled outfit. I’m not necessarily the most fashion forward person, but I have taste and a distinct style, which has always been in tact.
4. MISGUIDED TENDER HEART
I say misguided, because I don’t cry when one would expect me to, and I am a complete baby about odd things. Few may know the song, “Abraham, Martin, and John.” I would google it and tell you who wrote it, but I don’t want to accidentally hear it or read the lyrics. Harry Belafonte sang it, and it was on a CD I loved when I was a kid. I had to skip it. I had no idea what it was about (knowing what it is as an adult, yes, it is cry worthy), but it never failed, if someone turned it on, or heaven forbid let the CD play unattended, I would be an inconsolable mess. Benji The Hunted was a very bad idea to take little CoCo to, as I still remember bawling in the foyer of the theater. On the same note, I still can’t even see the cover of Charlotte’s Web, and yes, I know it is about a spider, which I kill without a second thought. A few years ago, I cried because the mom in front of me, who looked to have very little money, wouldn’t let her kid buy a box of brownie mix. My life is full of spontaneous oddly timed tears. I cry when I go to the doctor. Every time. No idea why. Please don’t make me tell you the story of The Last Leaf, either.
5. INDEPENDENT WOMAN
I’m sure it is no surprise that I am fairly independent. Anyone who knew me when I was labeled a “Siamese Twin” with my childhood BFF Lindsey, would probably disagree, as we were always together. I did, and still do, prefer playing with a friend, but I was also very good at being alone. I could play Barbies for hours on end, in my room, by myself. When I broke my arm, I was alone in my backyard playing circus in a tutu and leotard on my monkeybars. I think my sister was jumping on the trampoline, and did get help, but I was definitely in my own realm when it happened. I am quite comfortable doing most things on my own. I fully believe that company makes life better, but I am not scared to just go do something by myself if I want. I enjoy my solo adventures, and make great conversation with myself in my head. Same as when I played Barbies.
6. I’M A NATURAL BORN DEMOCRAT
Sorry, Mom and Dad. You should have seen this one coming long before I dated the person who you think turned me. Let me remind you, at Point Defiance Zoo, my cousin Emily and I would walk around and talk about how terrible the confined spaces were, and praise the animal displays that had a more natural habitat. We also planned our own animal sanctuaries when we would grow up. I would always make sure to cut the plastic 6-pack holders from the soda, just in case it ended up in the water, so a fish could swim through it without getting caught. I special ordered “vegan” shoes in 7th grade, and also went a while as a vegetarian as an adolescent. I believed in equal rights for my dolls, and always wanted the black baby dolls. I wrote a paper on the suffrage in 6th grade, and for some reason had a bee in my bonnet about women being allowed to play men’s hockey (of all the random sports to pick). I wanted to give money to every homeless person I saw without a second thought as to what they would do with the money they were given, and couldn’t understand how America even had homeless people. The gay issue wasn’t on my radar until adulthood, so my opinions on that are new, but I have always loved Queen. The finer details of politics and politicians are obviously more polarizing, and I find myself in the middle on most issues, but you can see why my basic beliefs land me squarely on the left side of that messy world. Incidentally, the knowledge that I have had these opinions most of my life also mean that I try not to argue politics, because I assume most people have their political beliefs equally ingrained.
7. NUDITY IS BEST
I hate wearing clothes. You have no idea how many pictures I have of me throughout childhood with my bare bum peaking out. At age 10, my dad wanted to sneak in to the laundry room and video my sister and I who he could hear singing and dancing. Little did he know, we were only wearing our underpants. Rachel quickly covered herself, while I proceeded to sing my own song called, “I’m dancing nude.” This glorious event is caught on family home video. My favorite part of family Lake Powell camping trips was the evening bath trip. We’d take the boats out and I’d get to jump in the water and swim around naked to clean myself off. That sounds a little more awkward than it actually was, written in short form like this. Anyone who has lived with me knows that I am not shy about walking around in my underwear, and I rarely wear pants to bed. I would say my favorite naked moment ever was going to Little Beach on Maui last year. Everyone should frolic in the ocean naked along side weird, old and overweight hippies at least once in their lives.
8. I ALWAYS FORGET ABOUT BRAKES
This is not allegorical. I literally can’t remember where brakes are in an emergency. I have driven a mountain bike into the lake, crashed a 4-wheeler into my mom’s mini-van, backed the same mini-van into my dad’s truck (I was 15) and kept going until I had scratched both for the full length of the vehicles, hit my sister’s boyfriend with a wave runner, and crashed a scooter in the parking lot of Belmont Apartments while fabulously driving in high heels. I have learned how to remember brakes in a car, thankfully, and actually have developed impressive snow driving skills. But seriously, don’t ever trust me to drive anything else. No matter how much I beg, I will crash it and I know that. I panic and don’t know where the brakes are, then try to abort ship and end up crashing the vehicle, myself, or both. Trust me. Saying no and putting up with my argument as to why you should let me is much better than the outcome if you say yes. 4-wheelers have two sets of brakes, and if I couldn’t remember that in an emergency, well… Yes, this is a problem.
I could keep going, but this is already a really long blog post. Needless to say, I find it hilarious that as I grow and find who I am, I find that I have really known this person all along. It’s just a matter of recognizing the parts that are good, letting them grow, and trying to control the less savory traits to appear less often. That is where the nurture comes in.