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No.I am no psychiatrist. Neither am I an intern doing a survey for some management school study. I am just a harried parent, living in guilt, of having passed on my fears to my daughter. Here I seek some consolation, any assurance, that phobias are not genetically coded and passed down to our offspring.
From as far back as I can remember, there are two things that could scare the living daylights out of me. The first one is the more dangerous one, for half our population cannot anticipate the perils of coming face to face with it and that makes it more lethal. OK, that was an exaggeration, for a cockroach doesn't have a face per se, it has antennas, ugly colors, dreadful wings and its apology of a face is bend down. The second is the more sophisticated "Maths". Four decades of my life have been marked with sordid and embarrassing moments of these two making mince meat of my ego. I had my small little victory when I threw maths out of my life after passing my Xth boards. The other still resurfaces time and again,at known and unknown spots teaching me to be always alert. Little surprise that my pest control guy's number is on my emergency call list.
I would have managed passing the rest of my life with this if I hadn't realized that my daughter, who passed me by in appearance and height, somehow has these fears inbuilt in her. While my panic attacks are limited to medium and bigger sized roaches, this one goes white and takes flight at the sight of the tiniest little ones. Though I never acknowledged my fear, my apathy towards numbers was a poorly guarded secret. This one goes round telling everyone in every possible way, status updates, discussions, whining etc. etc. Which has led my family to start this theory that maybe fear is genetic. To cover up my supposed folly, I have tried to understand how this happened.
This of course is no rocket science. She didn't pick it up from my genes but, from my behavior. When I wasn't even aware that she's noticing and storing my reactions and responses and will imbibe them in future. She will pick up etiquette and language and even general bearing towards life, I was taught by all and sundry. That I have to be on my guard 24/7, I learned the hard way. I should have stifled my scream, my urge for flight at the sight of insects, for I knew my fear was irrational. Practice and more practice is the tried and tested method for mastering Maths. Yet I chose to "understand" her reluctance and let her be average by merely doing the classwork and homework routine. Had I hired a tutor when there was still time, she wouldn't have to whine and write "hate poetry" for Maths at regular intervals.
Parenting is rightly overrated, it is the toughest job on earth. At present I am doing my Masters in Damage Control. If I manage to pass, my child will have a better future than me. If I fail, I can always come back here to pursue and establish, with help of more parents like me, that maybe phobias are genetic.