Wednesday, April 20, 2005

Gene Pools, Golf, and God

My son turned sixteen yesterday. To celebrate, I pulled him out of school (Under "Reason" I wrote "Want to) and we went golfing. It was a glorious day in Michigan with temps in the high 70's and the golf course was almost empty. Neither he nor I are great golfers (my swing: imagine a man trying to put on a shirt while being attacked by bees) but we enjoy the time together... and being able to hit something repeatedly with a stick without being in legal jeopardy is kind of nice, too. We talked about cars, the fact that neither of us can put (if you think the LORD moves in a mysterious way, wait until you see me putt!), friends, and the marine corps.

If you saw me beside my son you would probably not think we were related. He is six feet four inches, size 15 feet, and all muscle. I am... not. Okay, quick story. I have always told people that I was five eight and three quarters because those three quarters were very important to me. Last year I went to the doctor and found out the Lord had stolen my change! Stop laughing. I can hear you. Anyway, Duncan is an exceptionally calm and steady fellow, which is good when you are a veteran karate guy, good shooter, and a generally non-girly guy. I love him... but I'm not sure what is going on here.

Let me explain. I am a scientist. I know stuff about the genetic code. Neither my wife nor I come from families that are tall, strong, and only one of us came from good looking people (you get three guesses). How did this happen? Did God look at us and say, "All right, time for a little chlorine in the gene pool?" If so, then that's fine with me.

When I was a little boy they told me that no two snowflakes were alike. I didn't believe it then and don't now (c'mon people -- who's checking???). I also know that the best guess for number of atoms in the universe is 10 to the 60th power. That's a lot. However, in the genetic code of two people, we can make 10 to the 128th power people without making one duplicate. Wow. God built a system where dead ends don't have to occur (except with excessive inbreeding. You are clued into your approach of this danger zone by hearing kids in the mall call out "Uncle daddy, uncle daddy!").

I used to work in West Virginia (great folks, beautiful mountains). The university there is very engineer intensive and, so, we had lots of engineers attend our church. Sometimes two would meet and fall in love and get married. Later, after running computer models and business plans past each other, they would decide to have a child. I would inwardly groan, knowing what was coming next. Sure enough, in a few years they would come in and say there was something wrong with their child. They tried to teach it French, had flashcards of European composers, and sang kiddy songs about Calculus but the kid didn't get it. I would look and then and say, "There is nothing wrong with your child. It is just that God looked at you two and said, "Whoa, not doing THAT again!", and made your kid instead."

It would happen the other way, too. Sometimes refugees from the sixties would come out of the mountains (still hiding from the draft?) and sit there with their John Lennon glasses, Birkenstock sandals, army jackets with peace symbols, and various wildlife in their hair and point to their four year old kid sitting beside them (who would be in a three piece suit reading the Wall Street Journal) and say, "Dude! Like, there's something wrong, and stuff, with our kid, you know?" I would look at them and say, "Well, Dweezil and Moon Unit, God just decided to clean out the gene pool and start over..."

My son is not me. He is tall and strong and vital. Girls look at him (it is a point of pride in my life that I was never the cause of anyone's stumbling into lust...) and admire him. He will not follow me into the pulpit or the lab. He is planning on finding an ROTC program and becoming an officer in the Marines. Okay, son, that's fine. Whatever God made you to be -- be that. Anything else is a demotion. I'll be over here, proud, jealous, happy, fading, beaming.... but I promise you: I got your back.

4 Comments:

At 4/20/2005 11:35:00 AM , Blogger Dee O'Neil Andrews said...

Patrick -

Another great post, and so true. I have three grown children and they all amaze me in their differences (and likenesses, too, though) to their mom. Of course, I like to think that all the "good"genes came from my side of the family, if not directly from me (which is highly debatable)!

On another point - I need to give you some important advice. I'm assuming your son is a sophomore in high school. My older son, David, by that age was already clamoring to be a naval architect and wanting, really badly, to go into the NROTC on a four year scholarhip either over at Texas A&M (we lived in Picayune, Mississippi) or to Mississippi State, as both had naval architecture program.

He was also working ahead, wanting to graduate from high school in three years (that was before "gifted" or accelerated programs in Picayune, so there wasn't much choice). So, we were on a very tight timeline to see about all of those things.

About the end of the summer his sophomore year, or the beginning of the fall of his junior (and final) year, I went in to see the local Navy recruiter and made an appointment for him to come out to the house. He did, and let us know pretty quickly that it would be EASIER for David to get into the U. S. Naval Academy than to secure a four year NROTC scholarship anywhere.

So, we began the detailed and extended process of applying to the Naval Academy. To make a long story short, he was, indeed, nominated (even though we certainly had no political pull!)by Senator Trent Lott and accepted into the Academy at barely 17 (if you don't think THAT was a shock for the mother of her first child). When he graduated, nearly his entire company at the academy went into the Marine Corps (where THAT particular gene came from, I have NO clue!), where David served for 13 years before getting out to build a very successful career.

I would strongly urge you to steer your son in that direction, if he's got the grades, etc, he needs. Both NROTC scholarhips and Naval Academy applications are difficult to get, but definitely worthwhile, if you can earn them.

Semper Fi, Duncan!

 
At 4/20/2005 12:54:00 PM , Blogger David U said...

Patrick, I have two wonderful sons, both of whom surpass me in ANY category you choose.....both physical, mental or spiritual! So your post resonated deep within me today, brother!

God is good!

Keep posting, please!

 
At 4/22/2005 11:57:00 AM , Blogger Bobby Garner said...

Patrick,
Brilliant! I've had a blast on this little site. The more I read, the more it sounds like you've been reading books on psychoneuroimmunology.

As a son, thank you for your passion for the will of God in the life of your children.

 
At 4/22/2005 02:47:00 PM , Blogger Keith said...

Wonderful post Patrick. Taking a kid out of school "just because" is out of bounds a lot of places. I think its cool. Bet he had a great birthday. Enjoy your blogs. Keep them coming.
Keith Riley

 

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