This trip, I’m noticing that my children look different to me when they’re with their relatives.
I can’t always define what it is that’s different. Sometimes I’m just aware of a subtle shift in how they look to me. The first and most pronounced occurrence of this wasn’t of my kids with their relatives but when I saw my daughter on the ultrasound. My experience of her for the first 18 weeks of my pregnancy had been expansive, eternal, and not reliant on the visual. Then she was reduced to an image on a screen that I found incongruous with my experience of her.
The experience of seeing her with her relatives isn’t quite as profound as that.
With their grandparents, who’ve been engaging in outdoor activities for the past month, they look pale. With their second cousins (or are they first cousins once removed? The internet has given me conflicting information about the relationship of my children to my first cousins’ children), their legs look longer, but their faces look rounder. With her aunt, my daughter’s features look more defined and it seems like I can see the shadow of the woman she’ll be in 20 years. With his great-grandma, my son looks more like a baby than he usually does to me.
Having especially my sister here highlights the similarities between her and my daughter. My daughter cleared her throat this morning and while I knew it was my daughter, I thought of my sister.
I’m looking forward to seeing my grandfather and my son together. Even without my dad present, I can see his expressions on my son’s face (especially when my son has been drinking a smoothie and has a little mustache on his upper lip). I’m curious to see if the similarities between my father and his father manifest themselves as similarities between his father and his grandson.