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08/01/2005

Godzilla vs. Batman

Charlie is at a funny stage, and by that I mean not "funny ha-ha" but "funny Jesus Christ, this child is immense."

He weighs just shy of 23 pounds, and at last measure he was 29 inches long. He's a bit over 8 months actual; for his actual age, he falls into the 85th percentile for both length and weight. For a preemie, this is notable: children who were born early are expected to catch up to their full-term peers by age 2. Not only has Charlie done so long before that, he is currently leaving most of them in the dust.

For his corrected age, which is about six months, he is off the freaking charts. He is huge. He is enormous. When strangers marvel in their well-meaning way, I blame a minor but embarrassing nuclear accident, smile nervously, and change the subject fast.

Sometimes Charlie's bulk presents a problem. While he's where he should be in growth, as far as development is concerned he's still more in line with his adjusted age (and perhaps in some areas even a bit behind). For example, he is not yet developed enough to sit up unsupported, but he's developed enough to resent that bitterly. He wants, damn you, Mom, to sit.

He's not quite ready for most restaurant high chairs, the kind that offer little back support. Yet he's too big for an infant car seat, the only kind that can easily be carried inside. He is also too big, and too much in control of his own acquisitive hands, to balance him on my knee while I eat. It is possible, just, to eat with one hand and support him with the other as he slopes from side to side in the high chair; yesterday Paul and I enjoyed a thrilling game of Pong while we wolfed down cheesburgers, tipping him ever so gently in the other direction when he'd leaned too far to one side.

He weighs too much for his bouncy seat, bending it almost parallel to the ground the last time I strapped him in. He is too large for his Bumbo seat, which he has never especially enjoyed; I don't know whether its leg openings pinch his hammy thighs in a painful viselike grip, or whether he simply resents being restrained in that way, but he arches back so far that he comes partially out, making what I originally thought was an ingenious item into little more than a molded foam invitation to a concussion.

And so we wait. Dozens of times a day I prop him up on the floor, sitting, then move away, letting him balance on his own until he inevitably starts to wobble. I catch him. I right him. We start again. I can be patient, though it seems he cannot. Sooner or later, all 23 pounds of him will sit. And crawl. And stand.

And, one presumes, empty the contents of an entire shinkansen down his gullet with a terrible, deafening screech. Godzilla had better watch his spiny mutant back.

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