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The sacrificial ham

Yesterday Charlie went for his one year checkup. Apparently he sensed the moment of this occasion, the palpable feeling of celebration, the downright festivity of it all, because he cooperatively dropped a gigantic load into his diaper immediately before he was to be weighed.

(Its consistency was unremarkable. Despite last week's drama — the diarrhearama, if you will, not to be confused with the bad '80s band — his stool sample was ultimately uninteresting, revealing no recurrence of C. diff and no other pathogens or toxins to speak of. But before we celebrate the return of regularity to my well loved son, I must inform you that last night and this morning, the diarrhea was back with a watery vengeance, threatening both my emotional equilibrium and his attendance at day care later this week. But this, unlike most of my posts lately, is not entirely about feces or vomit, so I shall say no more about Charlie's various by-products.)

Charlie was weighed, measured, and pronounced enormous. He was palpated and auscultated. He was stuck in the toe with a lancet, a procedure that evinced lowered brows and a look of concern but no crying. And he was given his next three immunizations — flu, MMR, and chicken pox.

Now, I do not know what other babies have, but Charlie does not have mere thighs. He has hams. (He knows this, as at bathtime we wash both ham one and ham two.) They are stout pillars of brawn, firm and strong, ever flexed in this position or that as he pulls to standing, squats to retrieve the remote control, and falls ass over teakettle from overbalancing as he waves the remote in triumph.

I know those three injections deep into muscle hurt, not only because he immediately turned purple and drew a long breath preparatory to howling in rage, but because I've felt it myself. Once he'd caught his breath, he cried. And cried. And criiiiiiied. In pain, in anger, in betrayal, in outrage.

Those are my hams! he seemed to be saying. I did not say you could stab my hams!

Since the ham-stabbing, Charlie has been a giant, bitter pill — kind of a horse tranquilizer, really, but without the much-needed sedative properties. Dinner was for jerks. Overnight sleep was for stupids. And breakfast? Why, breakfast was for stupid jerks who are stupid, you big jerk, and on that the matter stands.

I can only suppose that his legs really hurt; coupled with teething, which proceeds apace, and diarrhea, which — well, I promised I'd say no more — it's not hard to understand why he's been so irritable, so demanding, so...so...unreasonable.

Listen, I've heard the arguments against vaccination. I've never been swayed in the slightest. I feel strongly about getting Charlie immunized on schedule. I think the benefits to society as a whole far outweigh the drawbacks, which I perceive to be minimal.

But just this morning, listening to Charlie's unceasable whining and the sound of my own teeth, locked in a pleasant-looking rictus as I grind them down to powdery stumps, I'm almost tempted to flip.

Good God, what it does to the hams.