The Jumping Gene

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The Jumping Gene

imagePhotographer: John Drake

Everyone in our family knows about my mother’s nerves. And those nerves are bad.

My father used to take great delight in exercising my mother’s bad nerves. He would ‘walk’ up on her while she was cooking away in the kitchen and be right behind her when she turned around. Her screams of shock were ear-piercing and incredibly amusing.

We kids tried scaring mum a number of times during our childhood, but the consequences of the few successful attempts were so dire that we decided the fun to be had at mum’s expense just wasn’t worth it. Our mum was a firm believer in corporal punishment.

Mum’s nerves knew no limits. They made her jumpy and jittery in so many normal, everday situations. The telephone ringing, a piece of cutlery being dropped on the dining room tiles, a gust of wind blowing the front door shut – so many ‘noisy’ situations resulted in mum jumping a foot off the ground and screaming blue murder.

My siblings and I laughed so much at mum’s nervous episodes – they were so funny and we were so cruel! “I’m never going to be like mum,” I remember saying to myself as I tried not to wet myself after yet another scream of fright from mum. There was no way I was inheriting that embarrassing gene and giving in to my nerves like my mother.

So, what I’d like to know now is, when did the jumpy gene multiply and jump from my mum to me?

Now, I too jump and scream at the telephone ringing, a piece of cutlery being dropped on the dining room tiles or a gust of wind blowing the front door shut.

And woe betide any child of mine who tries to creep up on me or hide around the corner and spring out as I come past!

Amongst other things, I’ve screamed at mice, rats, cricket balls, waves, squeaky toys, balloons, paper bags and all manner of antics and tricks performed by my children over the years – I swear they take ridiculous risks right in front of me just to get me to vocalise!

Nowadays, my mum is the first to admit that her hearing isn’t as good as it used to be. Consequently, her nerves are thankful.

In years to come, will I inherit my mother’s lack of hearing gene? Both my nerves and my family are hoping!


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