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Turning point

What a difference a couple of weeks make. Charlie now walks, speaks in simple sentences, and is learning to cook. Julie tells me he has begun studying chess, but I don't believe her; he falls for a mate-in-five gambit every time.

Well, no. But the changes still are pretty remarkable to me after just 10 days away. He's much more sure of his hands when he reaches for something, he can roll over from front to back and back to front, and he can stick four out of five toes in his mouth. He's getting ticklish. Even more important is the long-awaited change in family pecking order: Charlie now weighs visibly more than Skillet.

Charlie's face has also changed in a way that's hard for me to describe — he's matured, and even the same expressions he had before seem to have more subtlety to them. When he looks pensively at Thermos (we had the foresight to get a cat who is also a mobile black-and-white pattern) you can tell he's not just staring unfocused into space. When he gets mad that it isn't dinnertime yet, there are a lot more voluntary muscles in play.

And when he blows a bronx cheer in the middle of a meal, we're scraping oatmeal off the ceiling for days...