Thursday, June 14, 2007

What Will Our Baby Look Like?

One recurring topic among our friends and acquaintances is, " What will the baby look like?" Of course, Trien and I think quite a lot about that ourselves. We often speculate about what combination of features our unborn daughter will have.

Our friends think that the baby will be beautiful, because of the mix of races. I think she will be beautiful, because she is our daughter.

One of the games we play is "I hope she has your..." where we pick out certain features from each other that we'd like the baby to have.

(This is the latest picture of me. I'm the one on the right. The guy on the left is the one I gave the award to as the best student in my Saturday English workshop at school)

The #1 feature on her wish list is my nose. Trien hates her nose, because she says it is flat and wide. Me? I love her nose, and think it's adorable. It's cute the way I can twiddle it and mush it around. She can't do the same thing with my nose, because it is longer, and has too much cartilage in it. She practically worships my nose, and says that it is the perfect nose.

#2 on her list is the shape of my face. Her major complaint about her looks, like most Asian women is: " My face is too round!" My response? "Why, do you want it to be square, rectangular, or shaped like a pyramid? Maybe a nice cone shape?" To which her reply is usually a boo-boo face, and a friendly shove in the shoulder.

(This is her getting ready for our Blessing Ceremony in her village of Buaya, Lapu-Lapu City, Province of Cebu)

#1 on my wish list is usually split between her mouth and her hair. Trien has these pretty, full, sensuous lips, and strong white shiny teeth. She's never had a cavity inn her life. What about Daddy?" As she would say, "Not so."

Her hair is dark black, and so fine that it is almost non-existent. When I pick up one of her fallen hairs, and stretch it out between my fingers to look at it, it is so thin that I can barely see it or feel it.

(This is her at 16, in her high school year book photo.)

Meanwhile, she says that it is Ok for the baby to have her hair, as long as it is my color. Actually, what she really hopes for is that the baby will have hair the color of my sister's twins, which is a copper colored. She was a bit disappointed when I told her that wasn't likely to happen, as red hair is a recessive trait, and wouldn't be expressed unless she also carried the gene for red hair. As that is extremely unlikely, she says that brown hair would be ok, too.

(This is my sister and her kids. Josh, in gray and Liz, are the twins).

She also wants the baby to have my ears. Trien has these cute little baby ears, that don't seem to have grown much since birth. I find her ears quite delightful, and very nice to nibble on. She likes my ears because they are larger, but not over sized, and would fit in with the shape of the face better.

(This is my brother with his wife and daughter. His wife is from Taiwan.)

Another thing that is important to her, but not so important to me, is skin color. Trien's skin is a nice honey brown color, while mine is fair, inherited from my mother's Northern European origins. I definitely don't want our baby to have my skin color, especially if we are going to be living in the tropics. Trien agrees with me, but at the same time doesn't want the baby to have her skin tone, either. She thinks it is too dark. So we both agree that the best skin color would be somewhere in between.

Skin color matters more to her than it does to me. Her father is very dark, like mahogany. His family, friends, and fellow residents of the village call him "the African". The reason he is so dark is that he spends a lot of time out in the sun, tending his fish traps, or the ducks he raises. One of the reasons he married Trien's mother was that she was lighter skinned, and their children would be, too.This is Trien's family. That's oldest brother Clifford (Manoy), Mama, Victoriano Jr. (Jun-Jun), Trien (Irien), Me, sister Emily (Em-Em), and Papa)

Trien likes to say that she is "pure Filipina." To me, that means pure blooded, no mixture with anything else. Well, obviously, that means something else to her, because I found out that there is Spanish blood on her father's side, and Chinese blood on her mother's side. That is why her mother, according to Trien, ". . . is lighter skinned, and has smaller eyes." It turns out some of her cousins on her mother's side, according to her, ". . . have Chinese names, and some of them look very Chinese." Hmmmmm . . . so then her mother is part Filichino?

On the other side of her family, her grandfather was part Spanish. How much, they don't know. She asks me If I remember that he had lighter skin. All I could remember was that he was very, very old, like Methuselah. They looked to be around the same age. The only thing I can't understand if her grandfather was so light skinned, why is his son so dark? Of course, I don't say anything about that to Trien, because then she might hit me with something.

(These are the wives with the kids. The woman on the left is Jun-Jun's fiancee, holding their daughter, Althea. Jun-Jun has his arm around his daughter, Crystal, from a previous relationship. Standing next to me is Manoy's wife, Abeline, with her arm around their daughter, Toni Anne, and holding their son, Tyrone. The three kids in front- the boy in the white and orange t-shirt, the little girl in pink, and the girl in white and yellow are her brother Richie's (Ongkoy) kids, Christian, Shaina, and Richel.)

As for my family, we are what is best termed as "melting pot Americans", or more commonly known as "Mutts". Just throw a bit of everything in there, stir it together, and let simmer. We have both sides of the American experience. My Dad's family was one of the first families in the country. My Mom's family is relatively recent immigrants.

My Grandfather's parents immigrated from Germany sometime in the 1880's during one of the great migrations, and settled in Manhattan. Their family name goes all the way back to the time of the Romans, being the name of a tribe in central Germany.

My Grandmother's family, they are, to put it nicely, a mess. The authorities in Europe probably couldn't wait for them to emigrate, and had the papers all signed and approved way beforehand.

According to my Grandmother, her family is 100% German, through and through.

Now here's where it gets good.

Her father was born in France, and had a Danish last name. He fought for Germany in World War One. Her mother was born in Denmark, with a German family name. My Grandmother and her sister were born in Germany. Yet when they emigrated to the USA, they were carrying Belgian passports! This was way before the time of the EU.

My Grandmother claimed that her father and mother were German, because Germany had temporary control over the areas that they were born in when they were born there. When one of my Filipino friends heard that, he said:
"I was born in the Philippines when it was under Japanese control. So does that mean I am Japanese?"

It was useless to try to argue the point with Grandma. As far as I know, my mother's family are still arguing over what they are. They are human, or at least I think so. I sometimes have my doubts, though. Sometimes I wonder not what country they came from, but what planet!
Trien knows all about them, but she married me anyway. What a woman!

My Dad's family, as I said before, have been in the USA forever, coming sometime around Jamestown to Virginia. They are real salt of the earth types, almost total opposites of the lunatics and crazies in my Mom's family.

There is a lot of American Indian blood in their heritage, recently Cherokee, and probably some nearly extinct eastern woodland tribes. They mixed very well. According to my Dad's mother, our family is a mixture of:
English, Irish, Welsh, Scottish, Scotch-Irish, French, German, Spanish (if I remember it all correctly), and whatever Native American Tribes mixed in along the way, which apparently there were several.

So add that to my Mom's background of French, German, and Danish (there might be some Polish in there, too, but don't try telling them that, or it will lead to yet another war), and Trien's background of Filipino, Spanish, and Chinese, and I think we don't have to worry too much about any racially inherited genetic conditions.