Thursday, August 18, 2011


So our baby daughter had her four-month checkup at the pediatrician on Monday, and my wife dutifully gave me the rundown that night, rattling off the vital stats (which I processed at the time as “acceptably hitting the right milestones” without memorizing the exact figures): weighs fifteen and a half pounds now, twenty-something inches long, something-something centimeters head circumference. In no small part do I attribute my lack of eidetic memory on the numbers to the weird mixing of units. Or as I put it to my wife: “How come the length is imperial and the phrenology is metric?” To which she immediately answered “Yeah, I know, that bugged me, too.” I struggle to express how truly grand it is for me to be able to ask questions using my own preferred terminology and not only have my wife answer in a way that reveals we are essentially on the same page, but not have her bat an eye at the question itself in the first place. She gets where I’m coming from.

But as discredited pseudoscience goes, it's so charming.
So the little girl is healthy and happy and measuring as she should in all respects. Her brother is, too, but of course at his age a lot of the as-he-should stuff , particularly in the mental emotional and social arenas, involves being contrary and independence-seeking and boundary-challenging and so forth. He’s been on a good roll lately (knock interweb-wood) with bedtimes, although last night we got into a slight power-scuffle over which stuffed animals and how many he was going to take to bed. First he wanted a massive orangutan doll which sits on top of his bookcase and is literally about the same size as the little guy; I told him that was not a good sleep-snuggy. He conceded the point if he could have his regular stuffed lion (which is the size of a small teddy bear) plus a Beanie Baby walrus plus some Beanie Baby monkeys. My counter-offer was lion, walrus and one monkey, which I lined up on his bed while telling him that three sleep-snuggies was all he needed.

Unburdened by logic or mathematic fundamentals as basic as the number line, the little guy then proceeded to tell me that I hadn’t given him three sleep-snuggies, I had given him six. He even counted them to demonstrate: “One … two … six!” He further asserted that he needed more stuffed animals to get three, because three is more than six, as he attempted to liberate more monkeys. I was perilously close to actually arguing with the little guy about his flawed methodology in numbering objects, but fortunately I realized that it was not the optimal time and place and managed to terminate the negotiations and get him into bed rather than digress too much into the philosophy of simple addition. I’m sure it was just a postponement of the inevitable.

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