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05/15/2005

The drama of the normal child

What, you mean there isn't any complicated medical reason for Charlie to wake up five times in the middle of the night, he just does it because he feels like it? And that smiling gurgle isn't uniformly a sign that he's about to throw up? How am I going to understand this kid if there aren't Rules?

The obsession I fall into most often is that of the third royal physician in The Madness of King George III -- if I have to smell it (not optional) and clean it up, I might as well worry about why it's tarry or curdy large or small or whatever other variation he's decided to produce. But I can also fuss about how often Charlie is burping or eating or whether he's holding his head up as high off the floor as he did yesterday.

I know that Charlie isn't an intensively-monitored patient, but it's so much easier to relate to him that way, or to think of him as a particularly smart but clumsy puppy. When he laughs to see one of us, or tries desperately to win a smiling contest, it's frighteningly apparent that there's beginning to be a tiny little human being in there. And then I think about how long it took me to learn to tie my shoes.

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