My parents have come and gone (sniff, sniff), and during our four days together we did A LOT. In between doubling-up on coats because of the really-really inclement weather, transferring tube lines to get to and from, and comparing everything we bought to the ridiculously over-priced manicures we got at Harrods, I discovered just how much the apple truly doesn’t fall far from the tree. Therefore, I thought I’d run through their visit by way of some clearly-inherited personality traits.
Trait: Being a morning person
Inherited from: Mom
The first two nights my parents stayed with me in Wapping. Surely because of the time difference (and maybe also because of the bone-chilling temperatures outside), they slept pretty late both days. Each day, when I couldn’t wait much longer to get going with all I had planned for us, I’d go in to wake them. Without fail, she’d pop her head up and go, ‘What time is it?’ to which I’d reply, 10a.m., to which she’d say, in shock, ‘NO!’ Within minutes she’d be up and ready to do whatever or go wherever, which is how I am in the morning. My father, on the other hand, barely registered any of it, and is a much slower mover. It’s best not to ask him too many questions shortly after rising.
Trait: Taking photos…of everything
Inherited from: Both
The whole Lieberman family suffers from the I-Have-My-Own-Camera syndrome. We noticed it after our trip to Alaska a few years ago. Once we uploaded, we discovered there must’ve been something close to 1,200 between the five of us. It’s silly, really. But photography is something we each enjoy and are pretty good at. With the exception of my mom. Sorry, but it’s true. This weekend saw her point, click and pull away from the target before the shutter even opened, leaving whoever she was photographing blurry or outside the frame altogether. Still, she does have a good eye for what to capture. (Ahem, me asleep on the tube.) My dad, on the other hand, is good at seeing beyond the “what” and into the “how.” Once he finally brought his SLR with him — props to my mom for suggesting it as a method of distraction from the cold and our agenda to power through it — he snapped shots of everything: the incoming train, the deer-crossing sign covered in snow, my mom “drinking” from the Trafalgar Square fountain. (Unfortunately, and perhaps ironically, most of these pics are on their camera and they’re en route to Paris…)
Inherited from: Both
When I travel, I often have a guidebook in one hand and my head tucked within it. When we went to Turkey, my sister had to remind me to actually look at whatever I was reading about. This weekend, though, whenever we went somewhere or were looking for an answer to something, my mom was the one to pull out her handy Rick Steeves. It was really nice not to be the one doing it for a change! Not only did we learn about the great London fire after my father intuitively noticed the charred ceiling at the city’s oldest pub Ye Old Cheshire Cheese, but also that we should visit the Diana memorial via the Egyptian elevators at Harrods. Oh and up 69 stories at the top of the Shard, she was the first of us to find the telescope-thingys that magnified the sights and gave a summary of what you were looking at. My dad, on the other hand, prefers to learn by talking to someone. He befriended several of the security and tour guides at the Shard, asking them about whether the structure is meant to move. (One said yes, another no. Verdict: TBD.)
Trait: Wanting the best…seat
Inherited from: Dad
It’s something that used to aggravate us all growing up: We’d go out to dinner and without fail, the first table they offered us my father would rebuke. It was either too close to the bathroom, or the wait station. It was square, and he wanted round. It was next to a table of kids or a large group. On one hand, I see his point: You’re not only paying for the meal, but the whole experience, and if the waiter has to graze your elbow every time they put an order in, well, that’s not enjoyable. On the other, it’s a terribly uncomfortable thing for both the rest of your party and the host to have to deal with. This was the case on Sunday when we went for our Sunday roast at the Spaniard’s Inn — except this time, it wasn’t my father who was being choosey, it was me! I wanted to sit downstairs among the hub-bub of all the pint-guzzling locals for a real roast experience. (Or what I knew as one.) He wanted the original table they gave us, which was upstairs, away from the crowds and noise in a more civilized room decorated with oil paintings of poets. (Keats!) In the end, we stayed put upstairs, but not after each of us — individually — went down to check out the other options. (Hello, FOMO!) Thankfully, the manager was willing to accommodate us with a smile and we were able to eat our Yorkshire pudding, fish ‘n’ chips and Scotch eggs without fear of someone spitting in them.
Trait: Taking things one step further
Inherited from: Mom
I’m a do-er who takes great joy and pride in going above and beyond. Bridal shower gift? Sure, I’ll make a cake out of towels. But I didn’t come up with that one myself. No, that was all my mom. So not only were we going to see the Lichtenstein retrospective at the Tate Modern, but we were going to hear about it, too. My Mom always suggests getting the audio guides at museums, which helps, er, tune out the class tours and screaming babies, and also sets the pace for the visit and puts the artwork into context. I always come out more amazed and inspired. And on the day we romped through the snowy Heath and along Hampstead High Street after our roast, she didn’t flinch at the idea of spontaneously seeing a movie at the Everyman despite it being 6p.m. and our being 45 minutes from their hotel. We thawed ourselves out with tea and coffee (delivered to us via waiter at our seats!) and ended up enjoying a movie none of knew anything about. “Why didn’t we get glasses?” asked my dad before it began. “Because we’re not seeing ‘Oz,’ Dad. We’re seeing ‘Side Effects.’”
Trait: Paying up
Inherited from: Both
I love a good sale and try to make my lunches and take public transport when I can. But I rarely sacrifice quality or time for the sake of a dime. While it was my idea to drag them around via tube and bus for the better part of the weekend, sometimes you just gotta cab it. And after we had gone to the Tate, walked the Southbank, eaten lunch at Oxo Tower and gone up the Shard, there was absolutely no way they were allowing me to drag them on a bus or the tube back to the hotel to change for Passover dinner all the way up in North West London. Not only was the cab ride warm and somewhat quick, but we had the most lovely cabbie who regaled us with stories of silly American tourists and the ridiculous requests he’s gotten from them. (One such story included a girl who asked to be taken to London Bridge even though she really meant Tower Bridge — a classic mistake, really.) So it cost us £18. Worth every pence. Same for the stalls (read: orchestra) seats to see “National Treasure” Helen Mirren in The Audience. Way better from up front.
Overall, it was a special few days. We laughed, we drank, we froze and we unknowingly ate someone’s “crisps” from the counter before a waiter could serve them. You know, just classic Lieberman-trait stuff.