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Please make up your mind whether you are going to act like a jerk or like a decent human being toward me. I can deal appropriately with whichever one you select, but this business of switching back and forth is for the birds.
This afternoon I was searching online for any companies in my field that might have openings in this region. Any companies that I haven’t already applied to and possibly interviewed with. And then Nate woke from his nap, a thing he almost never does before a good three hours have passed.
So I went to check on him, and tried to comfort him. At first I held him and stood by his crib, swaying from foot to foot; after a diaper change I wound up lying next to him in my parents’ king-sized bed, cuddling him until he fell back into a deep sleep.
My son is a large boy. Already he’s too large for me to effectively soothe him while standing and holding him; soon, he’ll be too big for me to scoop him up and carry him very far, particularly if he doesn’t want to go. Holding him in my lap for storytime seems to require a miniscule shift in position every week. And he’s far too tall to curl his body against mine when we lie side by side without some serious folding.
Having a young child forces you to slow down the pace of your life, to take things at their speed. The whole rhythm of your day changes, not just during the notorious newborn period, but for a long time after that. Those days — defined by naptimes, bathtimes, storytimes, and bedtimes — never seem to change from the day before, until you look up and realize your child is no longer a baby, is in fact rapidly moving out of toddlerhood. That each day brings incremental changes. That already he needs less focused attention, less cuddling, than he did a quarter-year ago.
So yes, the time I spent tending to him during his naptime today — normally the one block of time I can count on not being interrupted — was disruptive to my day. But I realize that as every day passes, the time he’ll need me so close grows a day shorter. Each time he needs me to lie down with him and soothe him back to sleep is one less time I’ll get to do that. So I was pleased to get those extra few dedicated minutes. To feel his little body relaxing against me as he drifted off to sleep. To lie next to him for a time, even after he was asleep, just holding him and listening to him breathe.
By Nathaniel, age 2.5
If hugging Paw-paw:
Run to within three feet of Paw-Paw.
Turn around and back up the last three feet.
Lean against his knees. Wait for him to lean down and hug you.
When he leans down, reach up and wrap one arm around his neck. Blow kisses into the air.
Let go and run back to your game.
If hugging Mama:
Cajole Mama to sit on the floor and play cars with you. Watch carefully; eventually she will lean forward and rest her elbows on her knees.
Now is the time for a sneak-hug attack! Climb up on Mama’s back and wrap your arms all the way around her neck.
Rest your head on her shoulder. Say, “Awww.” Kiss Mama’s cheek, or the air next to it.
Dangle for a while. This position can be used as a lead-in to other games, including Ride on Mama’s Back, Dangle from Mama’s Neck, and Climb Over Mama’s Head Like a Mountain.
By Nathaniel, age 2.5
Bite a French fry.
Burn your mouth. Drop the fry, and flap your hands in the air so Mama will notice your burn.
At Mama’s direction, pick up a fry and blow on it.
Bite it again. Still too hot. Drop the fry on your plate.
Oh, look! Ketchup has appeared on your plate!
Dip a fry in ketchup. Three dips. Exactly three dips.
Now put the tip of the fry in your mouth. Lick the ketchup off.
Is the ketchup warm? If not, eat the fry. If it is, the fry is still too hot. Dip it in the ketchup again — one, two, three little dips.
I am a science geek at heart. I don’t have the training I need to understand everything I want to — but I suspect that would still be true if I had PhDs in biology, physics, chemistry, ecology, and several others. So I confess, the stuff that makes me say squee isn’t some ubercool blog celebrity commenting or a neato new technological gadget. It’s stuff like a certain article in the latest issue of The Economist.
The first two-thirds of the article, about commonalities between the effects of reverse transcriptase on cancer cells versus those of zygotes in early mitosis, is interesting enough. It’s the last part that takes my breath away:
Some of Dr Spadafora’s work is relevant to fertility treatments, too—but in a more worrisome way than Dr McKeon’s. Naked sperm (those stripped of the seminal fluid in which they normally issue forth) are more promiscuous than those still dressed in that fluid: they can pick up strands of DNA and RNA from their environment if separated from the other ingredients of semen. And they appear remarkably good at this. Dr Spadafora, for instance, claims he once found a section of frog DNA, which must have hung around in his laboratory from an experiment conducted more than a year previously, inside a mouse sperm.
This promiscuity is widespread, and has been seen in sperm from more than 30 species, from sea urchins to honey bees to humans. In many instances the foreign genes have been incorporated into embryos when the sperm fertilised an egg. In about a quarter of cases the foreign genes have appeared in the next generation. And in Dr Spadafora’s mouse experiments, reverse transcriptase in sperm has very occasionally turned foreign RNA into DNA, which has then found a place in the nuclear genome.
Although unlikely to have any effect if it did happen, the principle is cause for concern. Fertility clinics remove the seminal protection from human sperm in order to rid it of diseases. This work suggests, in theory at least, that IVF laboratories could unwittingly create transgenic humans.
Transgenic humans — that is, humans with genes borrowed from other organisms? The possibilities of what this could mean are beyond me. It is the very idea that this is possible that takes my breath away.