Nature vs nurture

Nature vs nurtureOUR SON is a ‘typical boy’. We say it all the time. It started when he was very young with his infatuation with big trucks, diggers and emergency vehicles. He then moved on to knights, dinosaurs and police officers. When he started his current nursery, aged three, he grew obsessed with superheroes, particularly Batman. So much so that last year we held a Superhero Party for his fourth birthday.

In the last month, his love of heroes has migrated to the quintessential sheriff. Our breakfast chats now revolve around the Wild West, bandits, the noble gunman prepared to defend a town. I showed him Lego versions of the classic shootout; and we’ve had a few goes ourselves, with the young sheriff somehow always beating my geriatric skills at the ‘draw’. (My slowness of movement immediately comes in handy for the crucial melodrama of my death scenes.)

Right side of the law

The underlying theme is good vs evil, the goodie vs the baddie – and happily Boy Wonder will always wear the white hat. He wants to be a police officer when he grows up (I intend to wait 10 years before informing him that such public service spirit is hugely misplaced and I expect him to run a hedge fund).

What still confuses me, however, is what influences these very ‘typical’ boyish obsessions?

I might be able to answer questions about his latest fad – and, indeed, enjoy a bit of role play – but it’s been a while since I dressed as Robin at the sixth form Christmas party. Or wore cowskin chaps. He watches TV, with its nasty adverts – and the ubiquitous promotion of the Lone Ranger film, like the Dark Knight before it, might have shaped his latest interest. There’s also his school mates and other friends, with their big brothers. But often it feels like it’s genetic, a biological code passed down through the male species.

Pretty in pink

The nature vs nurture conundrum is skewed further towards the former by Little Buddha. Her obsessions are twofold: Peppa Pig, which is to be expected, and the colour pink. Which is not, because the Duchess hates it. She was a tomboy when she was young and she just doesn’t do ‘girly’. Little Buddha, however, is not to be deterred. She commands the pink bowl and cup at breakfast – and even suggests I give the blue versions to her brother – her bedroom is gradually becoming a poodle parlour and tonight when I settled her in for bed with a promise tomorrow of a late night of Ice Age 4 and Smarties, she smiled and replied: ‘Pink chocolates for me, Daddy!’.

I can’t work it out. The Duchess, meanwhile, is in denial.