Day 22; Familial Traits: A Vocabulary Lesson

This year my husband and I will have been married for nine years, together eleven. Over this time period, I like to think I’ve grown closer to his family (many of them are in the same state). I have learned that they can be a little bit melancholy.

His grandfather, his mother, and at least one of my favorite cousins tend to be no-nonsense and sensible. My husband calls them Puddle Glums. If there’s a word that means ‘not easily excitable’*, that’s the word I need.

The Four Temperaments by Charles Le Brun

Webster’s Dictionary says applicable related words could include: perfunctory, pragmatic, grounded, and yes, a little pessimistic.

I asked another Q Cousin why they were so pessimistic once. She said something about “expecting the worst” and never being disappointed.

These are some of the traits of the Melancholic personality (you know, there’s Choleric**, Melancholic, Phlegmatic, and Sanguine):

  • “Melancholics are often self-contained and independent in their attitude.”
  • “Sudden movements and extreme expressiveness is definitely not their forte.”
  • “Melancholic people are sincerely respectful and self-sacrificing individuals. They are also charitable and moralistic in nature. They tend to be loyal friends despite all the odds facing them.”
  • “They tend to be suspicious and extremely skeptical of people.”
  • I feel it’s worth adding that this site also says that those with a melancholic personality tend to be ‘geniuses’ in their field!

These characteristics are totally endearing. My mother-in-law has a signature habit of abruptly ending phone conversations–something I have grown to love about her. Some of the Q Family can come across as aloof because they are trying hard no to rush into judgments or say something they might regret. The pic above says they are ‘focused on family and friends’–indeed. They are some of the most caring, kind people on Earth.

In any case, I’ve noticed lately that my son exhibits some of these matter-of-fact tendencies. This is a mash-up, paraphrased conversation between Boy Q and me:

Me: “Boy Q, don’t you miss Grandma and Grandpa?

Boy Q (shrugs): “No.”

Me (horrified): “Why not?!

Boy Q: “I don’t know.

Me: “Well….sometimes it’s nice to miss people so they know you love them.

Boy Q: “Well, they’ll be back. And we should go visit them. And they’ll come here for my birthday.

Me: “So….you don’t miss them because you know you’ll see them again?

Boy Q (shrugs again): “Yeah.”

I finally start to put the pieces together. He’s not missing them because–what is the point?! What a pragmatic five-year-old.

It happened again during a phone conversation with a Q Cousin who knows Boy Q adores soccer this year:

Q Cousin: “So, will you miss playing soccer?

Boy Q: “No.”

Q Cousin: “Okay….”

It’s so strange! To his mind, it’s simple though. He’ll play it again come next season.

This same quality comes across in his lack of modesty.

Papa Q: “You’re pretty good at soccer!

Boy Q: “I know.

Papa Q: “How’d you get so good then?!

Boy Q (shrugs): “I practice. And eat fruit.

Dad Q: “You’re supposed to say thank you…

I see where he’s coming from, though that doesn’t excuse the need to learn to be humble. Boy Q knows he practiced hard so he’s not surprised that he did well this year. Spock would appreciate the logic.

Dad Q says Boy Q exhibits sanguine tendencies too–that it’s not so cut and dry. Sure, sure. But mostly I think his Q Genes are taking root and flourishing. Someday I might have a full-blown, cynical Puddle Glum on my hands.

*Suggestions are welcome!

**Pretty sure I’m choleric. Wikipedia says that lots of tyrannical leaders were choleric. Awesome.

This post is also over at my blog,

2 thoughts on “Day 22; Familial Traits: A Vocabulary Lesson

  1. I love when kids call us out on social norms.
    “You’re pretty good at soccer!”
    “I know.”

    If only we could bottle that confidence for later on in life. Although I do have one supremely confident child. I think someone will probably beat her up someday.


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